Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Coffeeshop

One of the toughest things about owning a farmers' market business is the fact that it's so hard to keep good people when I can only offer them seasonal work. As this season began drawing to a close I started thinking about ways that I could keep some of my employees employed during the off season. It's been a good year, and I felt I wanted to make a small investment in a new venture, ideally something where I could make back most of that capital outlay in a relatively short period of time.

I started browsing Craigslist for opportunities. I called about a food cart, but winter is the wrong time of year for a food cart business, and besides, Seattle still hasn't changed the regulation that forbids selling anything other than hot dogs out of a cart. I could have looked into a full fledged truck, but that involved more of an investment than I was willing to make.

Then I saw an ad for a fully furnished coffeeshop, with the equipment included. I called and went to see it, and I was thoroughly charmed. The building owner had furnished it and tried to make a go of it, but she had no experience in the coffee business. She leased it to someone else who kept it open for a few months, but didn't want to make any investment in keeping it open longer.

The shop is on 23rd and Madison, across from Crush. There isn't a lot of parking, but there are quite a few condos and bus stops in a three block radius, and no coffee in either direction for 4 or 5 blocks. I went ahead and signed a lease.

We're going to serve soups, salads, stuffed breads and coffee. Everything will be homemade. (There's not much kitchen space, but it's half a mile from my big, underused commercial kitchen.) We'll use plenty of local and organic ingredients, including sustainable meat.

It's going to be a tricky location, but certainly not an impossible one. Because it's fully equipped, I'll be able to invest in things I could never afford before, like advertising, signage and decor.

When I signed the lease I didn't have a good feeling or a queasy feeling, I just felt that this venture was inevitable. I've made plenty of mistakes at the storefronts I tried to open in the past. I like to think that I've learned a thing or two from those mistakes, lessons that will serve me well this time around.


Emily said...

This is so exciting!!! Too bad I live in Anchorage now or I'd be stopping by for yummy stuff all the time. Well, next time I'm in WA visiting family I'll definitely come check out your new digs. Congrats!

Devra said...

Thanks, Emily. It is exciting. (And a bit scary.)

ash said...

AWESOME!! Good for you!

meghann said...

When are you opening?!

Devra said...

We opened on Tuesday! And there's free coffee all week!

Sarah P said...

Can't wait to stop in and check out the new store!

It will be like having a year-round farmer's market.

(sort of...)