Crown Brew Coffee Co., Marion

2022 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

The City of Marion is making an effort, led by Mayor Mike Absher, to revitalize its downtown and see all of the older buildings purchased, restored and utilized to their full economic potential. Designers and artists Josh Benitone and Jared Gravatt joined that effort and breathed new life and function into a neglected, 120-year old downtown building that today houses a thriving local gathering spot, Crown Bree Coffee Co. (CBCC).

Benitone and Gravatt took the lead in the redesign and rehabilitation of the historic building, working with a few close friends and partners on construction, painting and custom furniture building. During the rehabilitation, they salvaged lumber and metal original to the building and repurposed these materials as part of the renovation design and as art installations. The opening of CBCC has been a harbinger of new development in Marion. Since CBCC opened its doors, other businesses have moved into downtown Marion and are restoring more historic places.

(Photo credit: Crown Brew Coffee)


Jared Gravatt and Joshua Benitone, Owners
Baysinger Architects
Randy Jones Glass and Mirror
Ross Construction

(Photo credit: Crown Brew Coffee)


Joshua Benitone, Owner

When we started our business in 2016, we always planned to have our cafe in a historic building. The vision of the City of Marion to see downtown revival immediately shifted our gaze to Marion. Our first three years as a business, we rented a space in a historic building in downtown Carterville. As that building went through ownership change, we found ourselves looking for a space to make our own. As designers and artists, we relished the opportunity to take something that had been neglected or forgotten and make it beautiful and beloved. This building project and its completion represents a fulfillment of our goals and dreams since we started our business. It has been a tremendous blessing to us and our community.

(Photo credit: Crown Brew Coffee)


Joshua Benitone, Owner

Crown Brew Coffee Co. has been an example of hope and community in our region during a very difficult season in our country. We had our grand opening in October 2020, mid-pandemic, showing that despite all of the struggle and hurdles created by COVID-19, there was still a bright future for our city and its businesses. Since then, we have over 1,000 customers a week come through our doors. Every week we receive feedback from customers and out-of-town visitors about the character of the space, the unique design elements and just the beauty of the whole environment. It has set a high bar for other businesses coming downtown and has become a source of pride for our city and region.

Beyond the design, our business is most highly praised for the community and atmosphere that is created by our team. Crown Brew exists to build community and bring people together. We do this by creating space for people to connect and create meaningful relationships. Whether this is through community events, partnerships with other local businesses or just creating amazing craft beverages and signature dishes, we love to host people and create a safe space for anyone.

Our business is both an example of restoration in a building and restoration in community. Our customers span age, race, gender and religion. We see all kinds of people using our space and business as a catalyst to build both old and new relationships. There is a peace in the atmosphere that is contagious to the people enjoying it every day.

We have over dozen staff members on our team. In the last 18 months, five of them have purchased older and historic homes downtown and began the process of renovating and restoring them, contributing to the overall city revival.

Crown Brew Coffee Co. (CBCC) was the first business to open in a downtown revitalization experiment, and its success has been upheld as an example of what is possible when neighborhoods are restored. The work on this historic rehab was funded in part by a TIF from the City of Marion, which is making an effort to revitalize the downtown and see its historic buildings purchased, restored and utilized to their full potential.

(Photo credit: Crown Brew Coffee)

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