Tag Archives: Grant Vance

Quills Coffee

Creative fuel for the distinguished taste 

Story and Photos by Grant Vance

Writers and creatives are oft stereotyped for their studio away from home studio – the atmospheric and expresso-equipped shelter best known as the coffee shop. Quills Coffee fully embraces its place as the creative’s shelter, aptly naming the shop to embrace the writer’s antiquated tool. Certainly rolls off the tongue better than Keyboards.

quills2Quills of Downtown New Albany, located on Market right across the street from The Grand, is a welcome treat to Southern Indiana, offering uniquely crafted brews every day of the week, even the well-known barren business day, Monday. Their other locations are located on Bardstown Road, downtown Louisville and Indianapolis.

Originally started in 2007, Quills branched from Germantown into the Highlands, eventually making way to New Albany. Although the name appropriately fits as an allusion to writing, it also derives from founder Nathan Quillo’s last name.

As far as options go, Quills offers just about everything you’d expect from your average, run-of-the-bean coffee shop: in-house coffee, espresso, Americano, cappuccino, latte, cortado —and then some. If you plan on staying awhile, you can even order a bottomless option for just a dollar more than a cup of the in-house brew.

The manual brew option, described as a “fuller, more precise expression of flavors,” quills3offers seasonal brews of all different varieties to choose from. The back of the menu lists each, as well as the prominent tastes, including the farm and region the bean was grown, its process (washed, natural, etc.) and when it was harvested.

The manual brew is a fancy edition to the menu, but the fancy doesn’t end here. Like any well-accomplished coffee joint, Quills offer their very own signature drinks, including the Bourbon Latte, The Alchemist and Café Miele.

Quills’ predominantly wooden interior is as relaxing as it is aesthetically pleasing, decorated with old typewriters and an alternating wall displaying art for sale from local artists found adjacent to the barista’s headquarters behind the counter.

quills4Opposite the wall on the other side of the counter is a shelf full of Quills’ merch, including hats, shirts and mugs, as well as bags of coffee for the home brewers out there. Also offered are delicious pastries, including but not limited to toaster tarts, muffins, donuts and bagels.

An additional feature that sets Quills in Downtown New Albany apart is the style of music. Baristas alternate vinyl records, adding to the vintage, analog feel of the shop. All thee who dig an album from start to finish, rather than the typical shuffled variety approach taken by most other shops, enter here.quills5

The combination of unique atmosphere and great, distinctly cared for coffee sets Quills apart as a coffee shop going above and beyond the standard. Though it caters to the creatives in us all, you need not require the creative bug to enjoy all Quills has to offer.

But, after your second or third cup of bottomless coffee, who knows what can happen.


137 E. Market St.

New Albany



Bill Shannon: The Most Interested Man in the World?

by Grant Vance | Photos by Danny Alexander

A priest and company walk into a bar. It’s a classic setup. To transcend cliché, let’s say it’s a pastor, painter, actor, spelunker, bird-watcher, philosopher and writer – in a coffee shop.

The writer introduces himself, prompting and establishing the interview for these prolific characters. He asks his first question, anxiously avoiding excluding anyone from his inquiry. Something simple but refined, a real knockout opener.

“Could we start with names?”

Nailed it.

The pastor, painter, actor, spelunker, bird watcher and philosopher warmly acknowledge the writer’s efforts and respond.

“Bill Shannon,” they say simultaneously. “It’s nice to meet you.”

The joke here is that this is hardly a joke at all. Slightly fictionalized for the sake of bs1story-telling, sure. But Bill Shannon, although one person and not several, encompasses all of these titles, not to mention those of husband, father, grandfather and storyteller. All that’s missing is tinker, tailor, soldier, spy. But who knows, they may be next.

What’s certainly not missing in Shannon is a love for people and nature, and the desire to learn everything about each, respectively, while also impacting the likes of each as positively as he possibly can.

He’s not only interesting—he’s interested. “None of us are getting out of here alive,” he laughed. “What kind of impact can I have when I’m alive that will have a positive influence on people?”

This is an underlying theme throughout Shannon’s actions and artistic tendencies. bs2Creating art out of nature, using art as a distraction to the darker shades of life.

“I do a lot of communicating with community members and parishioners on Facebook,” he said.

“I try to counteract the hatred and division and bitterness by giving something nice to look at. Take them out of the world we live in and give them something they can look at and say ‘Oh, isn’t that neat.’”

Some examples of this include extreme close-ups of snowflakes, documentation of tadpoles – which Shannon saved from the wild and then re-released – evolving into frogs, footage of a snail eating an oyster “through the sand like a monster,” as well as videos of his dramatic reenactments of sermons.

“When I was in high school I won state awards in acting. … (I) won gold for Death of a Salesman,” Shannon said. “I love to act.”

bs4Acting is one of Shannon’s many artistic talents that lend themselves to story-telling, another outlet of “bringing joy to people’s lives,” he said. “My grandson, he and I have a thing going. He’s 12, and whenever he visits he’ll say, ‘Tell me a Virginia story’—Virginia was my grandmother’s name—and I’ll tell him a story about her life,” Shannon said.

“Or he’d ask for an Eileen story—my mother. Now he knows these people; their names and their lives. And, you know, I embellish a little bit.

“It’s a legacy thing. Will my grandson tell stories to his kids? His grandkids? Well, he’s already a storyteller.”

The legacy and power of storytelling is something that Shannon accounts for in not only his family and hopes of spreading joy, but also into his ideals of faith as a pastor.

“The storytelling aspect is part of the faith. (Scriptures) weren’t recorded—they were told,” he said.

“It’s not about the minute details of every word, it’s the story. This is the story, this is who we are. … It’s part of the human condition: sitting around a campfire telling the story of how Great Grandpa Olaf got that bear.” A pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church for seven years, faith and its connection to the human condition is important to Shannon and the grounding platform for his religious ideals.bs5

“God sent his son and not a committee because God wanted a relationship, not a committee,” Shannon laughed. “Institutionalized religion is the dark. … (I teach) it’s about relating and feeling comfortable with God.”

Shannon’s beliefs are reinforced by his upbringing as a pastor. He described the social climate of his origins 46 years ago, when he was a 20-year-old, self-proclaimed “hippy-ish Jesus freak. In 1968, people weren’t trusting institutions,” he recalled. “Boundaries were starting to be crossed.”

Shannon set the scene for an anecdote from his youth, calling a girl to ask her on a date only to be rejected by her father for his Irish last name. Their family Methodist, they assumed “Shannon” to be Roman Catholic. This was not considered acceptable at the time.

“These boundaries are being erased, and that’s a good thing,” he said. Insight into this perspective comes from Shannon’s experience in travel. He’s been all around the world, including notably much of Europe and the Middle East. He cited his love of people as a significant contributing factor as to why he enjoys it so much, describing his youngest son’s own life changing with other-worldly perspective gained through their travels together.

bs6“He said ‘Dad, they’ve got the same hopes and dreams I do,’ and they do,” he said. “The very next day we were in the store and there was this beautiful little 16-year-old, and she’s all excited and filled with enthusiasm because she got her license that day and her dad got her a VW Beetle.

“This was in Downtown Jerusalem and I said to my son, ‘What were you like when you got your driver’s license?

“It’s human condition to have hopes and dreams. It doesn’t matter where you’re from.”

When traveling, Shannon likes to talk with the “everyday people” and get to know them better; “sit down with them, break the language barrier. I know enough Hebrew to be dangerous. … I’m in love with people.”

He recalled a specific memory of a friend he met and was invited to have dinner with in Bethlehem.

“I had dinner with him in April (and we discussed) growing up in Bethlehem, (what it was like) to live in Bethlehem,” he recalled. “When I was there in the fall I was walking down the street and this car speeds by and (a man) starts yelling ‘Bill! Bill! Bill!’ and it was this guy I had supper with. If you make a friend, you have a friend for life.”

Aside from acting and storytelling, some of Shannon’s other hobbies are bird watching and spelunking, among other naturalistic hobbies that lend themselves to “exploring nature and how it works. I’m a naturalist. I want to know more about where I am.”

He loves birds, recreating them in beautiful paintings. His favorite a Carolina Wren known for being “just like a clown.”

As for spelunking, Shannon is enamored with the idea of exploring somewhere that has the potential of being untouched. He directed a caving camp for 10 years to “help give kids an adventure” and enjoys taking his own kids.bs3

“(My oldest son and I) explored a cave we had never been to before. … I sent him up what’s called a chimney. … He’s small so I sent him, you know. Sacrificial kid,” Shannon laughed. “(He called to me), so I slithered up, and at the top of this crevasse was a pool of calcite as white as paper and the water in it was clear as crystal, and it was full of salamander babies.”

Describing the scene, Shannon encapsulates the true nature of his artistry and wonder, seguing with a connective thread his love of people and nature alike. “What a thrill it is, a gift. It’s for the adventure, and that adventure goes outside of nature to people, too.”

Portage House: A Riverfront Winner

By Angie Fenton | Photos by JD Dotson and Grant Vance

porter6 porter3 porter1 porter porter4

The riverfront view in Jeffersonville just got even better with the addition of Portage House, 117 E. Riverside Drive, a restaurant featuring Midwestern cuisine – and oysters; oh, the oysters! – as well as plenty of local-to-Indiana products.


The Roasted Oysters – with chipotle butter, lime and Texas toast – are divine.

Housed in a home built in the 1870s, the goal was to create “a welcoming atmosphere,” said Chef Paul Skulas, most recently of Holy Grale and Gralehaus in Louisville. “We focused on creating a vibe more than (being known for) an exact dish.”

Part of Doers LLC, whose first project was Citizen 7 in Prospect, Portage House boasts several large windows that allow natural light to stream in, which helps to create an inviting environment. The “majority of the design was (conceptualized) through Alex Tinker, one of the Doers partners,” Skulas said. Nathan Weaver of StrADegy Advertising Group “was the main designer.” (Note: Looking for a way to repurpose an old painting or print? Weaver’s talents, on display throughout Portage House, will give do-it-yourselfers and Pinterest lovers plenty of inspiration for your own homes. Simply put, what he’s done is really, really cool.)


Kathy’s Pork Blade Steak is served with tomato butter beans, fennel and celery salad. This is a popular dish and for good reason: It’s delicious.

The view of the Ohio River, especially from the second floor, is lovely no matter the weather, but what stands out the most about Portage House is Skulas’ simple, sincere execution of the dishes on the menu. “We’re not overly pretentious,” he said, which is an understatement. Skulas makes food that is accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of pocketbook or palate. Though, don’t mistake that for being ordinary, because the menu is anything but.

Raw radishes paired with nothing more than butter and salt are a popular appetizer (just try them; you can thank us later).

Unaltered vegetables are the stars in the Raw Vegetable Salad – served with an herb vinaigrette, pear and feta – which made one nearby diner exclaim, “My god, this is good!”

Other highlights include the absolutely wonderful Roasted Oysters, Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Boneless Half Chicken, and Indiana Steak, which comes in two sizes.

Skulas’ go-to dish is Bucatini: spicy nduja sausage, shiitake, tarragon cream and parmesan, though he also favors the Half Dozen Oysters, served with mignonette and horseradish.

While on a visit during Sunday brunch, our table found the Grilled Cheese Sandwich a delectable dish of taleggio, Indiana goat cheese, fried egg and sorghum. A side of bacon from Hensley Homegrown farm was the perfect accompaniment.

The cocktail program, headed up by Bar Manager Daniel Mahony, is one of the best we’ve seen. “I approached the program off of Paul’s menu. He’s not a spoon drag kind of guy. He takes quality things and knows how to present them for what they are.”

So does Mahony.

Try a locally-made craft beer, Hop-Washed Whiskey or one of the punches that come in either 16-ounce or 32-ounce Mason jars. “They’re very conducive to being shared,” he said.

None of the menus – drinks and dishes – are extensive. That’s because Skulas “would rather do 15 things really well than 30 things mediocre. … I wanted something that was not like a Louisville restaurant. I wanted an Indiana-proud restaurant,” he said. “People really seem to be enjoying us.”

We sure did.

Portage House

117 E. Riverside Drive




4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday


By Grant Vance | Photos by Courtesy Photos

FRODO, PIXEL, RAINBOW AND ROSIE share a common, lifelong connection they can’t shake. Sure, they all have an affinity for treats. All bark as an alternative means of communication to traditional human language. These traits, of course, are akin to most dogs. What separates Frodo, Pixel, Rainbow and Rosie from some of their furry friends is a tragic past, and the new beginning granted to them by The Arrow Fund, a non-profit dedicated to providing medical treatment to animals who have suffered torture and extreme forms of abuse and neglect.


dog3 dog

Katie, Cello, Otto & Walter (Feature Image) are available for adoption. To find out more, go to www.TheArrowFund.org.

The Arrow Fund has operated for nearly seven years and continues to be Kentuckiana’s only organization that specializes solely in animal cruelty cases. It began when Founder and President Rebecca Eaves found Aiden, a dog who was in critical condition and suffering after he had been shot with an arrow at close range. This degree of animal cruelty didn’t start here, unfortunately. Horrifying tales of abuse and neglect of animals is nothing new. It did, however, start The Arrow Fund’s initiative to end it.

Aiden, along with Frodo, Pixel, Rainbow, Rosie and many others, are all living happy lives now, nursed back to health and either living in a foster home or happily adopted. No matter how bad of a situation an animal has suffered, The Arrow Fund strives to “make damn sure they have a happy ending,” said Thom Ham, director of operations.

The animals’ placement after recovery is thanks to Foster and Adoption Coordinator Kelley Luckett.

Although the work can be tiresome and emotionally draining – animal rescue is a 24/7, 365 day mission that never ends – Ham and Luckett said the work doesn’t go unrewarded.

Luckett recalled Aspin, a puppy who suffered severe injuries that required a full body cast. “Trying to keep a puppy in a full body cast is no joke,” Luckett chuckled. It was no joke, but it was worth the trouble, especially since the pup has recovered.

Some of the dogs even let their high spirits feed their ego, joked Ham. Frodo – a dog who was found in downtown Louisville with horrible injuries that included duct tape wrapped tightly around his muzzle and clear evidence he had been used as a bait dog for dog fighting – can work a room with his “catfish smile.”

Stanley, a beautiful yellow Labrador who required partial amputation of a front leg has a sweet, smart attitude – and he wants you to notice. “He’ll let you know,” Luckett said.

In addition to battling animal cruelty and abuse throughout the Kentuckiana community, The Arrow Fund also strives to raise awareness regarding the need for stricter animal cruelty laws (Kentucky is currently ranked as the worst state in the country for the lack of anti-animal cruelty legislation). The organization also works to help children understand the importance of having empathy for animals. After all, the majority of individuals who hurt animals very often do that – or worse – to human beings.

If you’re interested in helping The Arrow Fund, there is no shortage of avenues  to do so. This can be as simple as a monetary donation or as involved as a foster home, and there are several different forms of volunteerism falling in between. For more information on how to get involved visit their website at www.thearrowfund.org or contact info@arrowfund.org.