About Us

Kelly McAndrew, Tracey Harrison and Nicola Squires have transformed a 1930s-era gasoline station in Aberdeen into a new kind of neighborhood gathering place. (Photo by Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot)

The garage door is rolled up, and music from the 1930s and 1940s drifts out. Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Perry Como are regulars on the playlist at High Octane, the new retro-themed coffee shop in downtown Aberdeen.

The vibe at this repurposed gas station reflects the town itself and some of its businesses. The light fixtures came from A Light Source, the tables from Farm & Loft, other furnishings from Charlotte’s. The menu boards were created by The Bull Room, the nostalgic signs are from Burney True Value Hardware, the flowers are from Jack Hadden Floral, and the coffee is from Cactus Creek Coffee.

“It is insane the support we have gotten from the community,” said co-owner Tracey Harrison.

High Octane’s regular coffee menu is populated with seasonal flavors. (Photo by Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot)

It was following a memorial service for Harrison’s husband, Joe, when three friends — Harrison and Nicola Squires, both military spouses, and retired soldier Kelly McAndrew — decided they would start a business together.

“We said, ‘Let’s do something. Let’s open a coffee shop,’” said Harrison. “It was that quick. We saw a need for a coffee shop, and we knew we wanted to be in downtown Aberdeen.”

From the beginning, the trio made a conscious effort to support other local small entrepreneurs as part of their own business model. Within a month they signed a lease for their first choice property — the former Styers Pure Oil service station at the corner of South and Sycamore streets.

“We loved the building! It is so unique, and it was on a corner. We also loved that it was a garage, and it was one of the only places in downtown Aberdeen with its own parking lot,” said Squires.

The original structure dates back to the 1930s, so offering a cup of Joe with a slice of Americana made perfect sense in the town’s historic district.

Kelly McAndrew prepares a drink at High Octane. (Photo by Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot)

“The trains go right by, and we love seeing them. It is part of what makes this Aberdeen,” said Harrison. “And we have lots of customers who will come and tell us about the old days, the way it used to be. They say when the Aberdeen Hotel burned down, everything that had gone on there, all that congregating, picked up and moved here. This is where all the men would come in the evening to hang out and talk politics.”

With the retro theme decided, they approached Aberdeen-based Cactus Creek Coffee to develop their signature product. The High Octane house blend offers a mix of French Sumatran, Peruvian and Brazilian coffee beans. Cactus Creek and High Octane more recently partnered on a second signature blend called Evening on Knight Street, which features Peruvian, Brazilian and Mexican coffee beans.

The guys from the nearby Railhouse Brewery also collaborated with High Octane on a signature pour. A special coffee-infused craft beer flavor is now available exclusively in the brewery’s tap room steps away on South Street.

“It’s called the High Octane Chocolate Porter, and it’s delicious,” said Harrison.

High Octane’s regular coffee menu is populated with seasonal flavors alongside favorites like “The Rosie,” a white chocolate and rose latte; and “The War Bond,” with dark chocolate and creme de menthe flavors. Younger patrons enjoy the Italian soda selections.

Inside High Octane, customers will also find locally grown honey, greeting cards, specialty teas and baked goods from The Bakehouse; gluten-free options from Simply Baking For You; cake pops from Aroma; and delightful little almond shortbread cookies from Jeanie’s Box — the shop’s signature side for in-house orders.

“We’ve established a plethora of regulars. We have people come every day at the same time for the same thing. And some of them will come hang out for hours, and that is important to us,” said McAndrew. “We decided to open a coffee shop, and ‘Bam!’ here we are. It’s been great.”

Contact Laura Douglas at (910) 693-2474 or lauradouglass145@gmail.com.