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Paulette (Collins) Hammerstrom-Spath
Class of 1969 - Inducted 2018
Paulette was inducted into the SHSAA Hall of Fame in 2018.
In 1991, Paulette and her late husband, Steve Hammerstrom, changed the way people thought about their morning commutes. They introduced and pioneered the specialty coffee industry to Omaha and the Midwest both as a retailer and wholesaler. Until that time, no one had ever heard of a latte, breve or mocha! Many people and institutions said it couldn’t be done. Who would ever think of paying $3.00 for a cup of coffee? They began by trying to create a demand for their product. They did this by offering samples and by providing catering services to many functions in the city with the hope that people would fall in love with their product and service.
After trying an espresso cart in various locations around town they were ready to open their first retail location in the Old Market naming it the 13th Street Coffee Company. They were ahead of the times in several ways by being the first non-smoking coffeehouse, first internet cafe, as well as Omaha’s first drive-thru location on 129th and Maple.
Eight more locations would be developed in the following five years. Each location would be named after Nebraska’s yearly phenomenon of the Sandhill Crane, consequently all of the stores bear a silhouette of a Sandhill Crane.
In 2006, Steve passed away from cancer. Paulette continued with the business for two more years and then sold the company in 2008. Crane Coffee was honored as among the Chamber of Commerce’s 2002 Top 25 Fastest Growing Businesses in 2002.
Philanthropy was a large part of this endeavor with a special interest in the youth. They developed the Hope Kids programs in conjunction with the opening of the Hope Center in Omaha. Paulette has participated in presentations and panel discussions sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce-Omaha, ICANN, SCORE, Entrepreneurial College of UNO, community organizations and public schools.
Paulette's fondest memories of high school include memories of teachers such as Mr. Brown who taught Political Science, making it a very interesting class, and Ms. Gering, and Ms. Beck who “scared the begeebers” out of her. Another great memory was the cafeteria and the great ladies that prepared the lunches “loved those ladies and their cooking” especially the meat loaf, Mac and cheese, and some gravy that had some baked potato chunks in it. Paulette was a cheerleader in 1966-67, served as secretary in the DECA club (that served her well in her future endeavors), French club in 1966-67, and Honor Roll for three years prior to graduation.