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phaelon56

My new baby has arrived and is in her new home

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Toliver   
We just opened yesterday and I worked my first mornign shift today (which was fun - it's been many years since I've worked in any capactiy where I deal with the public and I love the contact with people).

How has the turnout been since you've opened?

I know it's only the second day but have you recognized some repeat customers already?

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I won't be working Monday mornings - the owners have wisely decided to do the early Monday shift each week so they can get to know the new regulars. It's already evident that we'll have some very regular repeat customers as a number of our guests this morning advised me that we'd be seeing them again tomorrow.

At our other pre-existing location it's a very efficient process during the morning rush because 80% - 90% of the morning rush trade is regulars. By the time they get to the front of the line their drink is already made. We'll get there eventually with the new place but there will be a learning curve. There will also continue to be a much larger number of both new and occasional visit customers as we're in a very visible high traffic location (our other stores are in somewhat obscure locations and no real marketing has ever been done).

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alacarte   

The windows are beautiful. If I remember correctly, the Arts & Crafts movement also was about trying to "bring the outdoors in" through use of earthy colors and organic forms. Mission accomplished (pun intended)!

Congrats again on the opening. Show us some espresso shots?

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Progress report: we just finished three weeks of being open for business and things are booming. On the third day we bested the same day sales of the smaller of our other two locations. On the sixth day, our first Saturday, we even bested the same day sales of our primary and original location, which is typically very busy on Saturday.

Build-out costs including a last minute OUCH bill from the primary contractor, went well beyond estimates; the new revenue stream was not a moment too soon. Apart from not having quite enough storage space the new design seems ot be workign very well from an efficiency standpoint. Regardless, I still keep a memo page in which I detail the things I'll do differently in a place of my own.

Best thing of all has been the incredibly positive reaction from the community. We've been welcomed in a big way and anticipate a serious growth in business once our existence becomes more well known - thus far there has been no marketing or advertising. The rational is to first ensure that we're properly staffed and understand the customer flow before we ramp up and make the push for more business - speed and quality of service are a priority.

I'll wait until we have some proper china cappa cups in house to post some drink pics but they will be forthcoming.

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alacarte   
I still keep a memo page in which I detail the things I'll do differently in a place of my own.

sounds like a very smart move!

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i'm just stunned at how the good bones of this place were fortunate to find folks who were sensitive to history, architecture and design, and had the funds to pull it all off. coming from a gal who has a strong familiarity with design cannons and a strong interest in antique/vintage architecture, your beautiful coffeehouse is really impressive. i want to say "breathtaking," but i fear i would sound silly.

i was especially impressed at how the vertical lines of the artisan stained glass (wavy glass, a nice touch) worked with the horizontal lines of the existing frames. the whole thing was a&c/prairie, but (to my mind) with a very faint splash of bauhaus. nicely done!

cheers :)

hc

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i was especially impressed at how the vertical lines of the artisan stained glass (wavy glass, a nice touch) worked with the horizontal lines of the existing frames.

The building dates back to the 1920's or 1930's, havign been a neighborhood grocery and meat market for years and ending its career as a karate studio. Numetrous mechanical issues and deterioration left the landlord with a structure that was essentially unrentable. There's a tenant in the back end (a musical instrument shop) whose presence was enabling utilities be kept on but it was the long term commitment of the coffeehouse that enabled the rehabilitation.

The front windows (which are energy efficient replacements for the original plate galss windows) are actually large expanses of glass uninterrupted on the vertical axis. The internal wooden framing allows the individual panels to be positioned and secured in place.

Business is still ahead of projections but the early morning rush is slower in developing than it has been at our other locations. Daytime business is intermittent but very good and weekends are jammin'. Interestingly enough, Starbucks plans to open less than block away from us on the other side of the road are rumored to have been put on hold or delayed due to technical/zoning issues. Not to worry - they're still intent on flattering us and have now announced new plans to open directly across the street from one of our other locations :laugh:

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i wonder if that's just not going to be to the betterment of your traffic, rather than its detriment. with both locales within eyeshot, and with a&c location being so exquisite, i wonder if regulars to starbucks would just gradually drift over, and frequent your establishment more often (or enough to give you a nice boost).

btw, my SO is an ardent patron of starbucks -- not for the coffee (he cannot abide coffe), but for their unsweetened black iced tea. apparently there are lots of overlooked unsweetened ice tea drinkers (at least 'round here, nj), and it's not so easy to find someplace that makes a good BUIT +and+ makes it regularly.

he goes every day, and they frequently have his order prepped before he arrives. he can always tell if they mistakenly used a pitcher for coffee or a fruit tea (they're always happy to remake it).

anyway, not sure if that would be a hot item up there, but i mention it. :)

btw (sorry for the unsolicited suggestion), using some of the wall space for local artists (or a mural done by a local artist) might be a nice way to connect with the community.</end of unsolicited idea>

cheers :)

hc

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MsMelkor   

Melkor and I stopped by to visit Owen's baby one morning when we were in town for Thanksgiving. The place is simply gorgeous - spacious, elegant, and warm. And the coffee's not bad! :raz:

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Toliver   

Owen,

I thought I would bump this back up to ask how the java joint is doing. And did Starbucks ever open across from one of your other locations? If so, has it caused any impact?

Also, did you ever come up with a satisfactory Home made low fat frozen coffee drink mix and have you added it to the menu yet?

Looking back at your preparations to opening and then finally opening, would you have done anything differently?

Call me curious! :wink:

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Thanks for asking. It's not my business - I just work for the owners part time as their espresso machine technician, coffee roaster and as a barista four early morning shifts each week. It does make for long days sometimes as I still have my "day job" as a sales engineer in the network technology field.

I wish I could tell you that business is booming at the new store but thus far it is not. There were unexpected cost overruns on construction - not unusual but these were larger than expected. That fact, coupled with a location that is on a very busy road but oddly lacking visibility and a bit tough to access, has made it a challenge to get sales the requisite level for real success. The other two stores continue to do very well but the new one, pictured earlier in this thread, has not yet kicked into gear as it should.

IMHO it's a marketing issue as much as anything. There are other factors as well but all of them including marketing are out of my purview and it may take awhile before things are resolved. Starbucks opened about two weeks ago less than a block from the store seen in this thread. They're on the wrong side of the road for morning drive traffic but have far more visibility and a better location for afternoon and evening business.

At the moment we haven't seen a big dent in our sales but I think it's the growth potential that they'll siphon off unless more action is taken. During the summer months they have a far better frozen blended drinks selection than we do and that may prove to be a factor. They also opened across from our downtown Syracuse store this past Friday but it's far to soon to know if there will be impact there.

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Toliver   
...That fact, coupled with a location that is on a very busy road but oddly lacking visibility and a bit tough to access, has made it a challenge to get sales the requisite level for real success.

Would local codes allow you to place a "sandwich-type board" (two-sided free-standing sign) on the sidewalk out front to help increase your visibilty and allow you to advertise specials?

Also, do you have any outdoor seating (with umbrellas during the summer)? Sometimes that's a draw, as well.

That's too bad about the shop lacking visibility and tough access. "Location, Location, Location" seems to be a major ingredient to success.

Is your exterior signage flat on the building or do you have any perpendicular signs which might help increase your visibility?

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Yes - we have a sandwich board sign that's right out by the traffic light everyday.

There are actually two entrances to our parking lot - one is just past the light that's in front of the store but to folks driving by it looks like an exit only.

An additional issue (a hunch on my part) is the fact that "coffee" is not part of our name or our signage. I can't being to tell you how many people have walked in on my shift and asked "Can I get just a cup of regular coffee here - not the fancy stuff?". We also need a better selection of morning items - some fresh fruit, additional pastry items that we lack... the list goes on.

The new Starbucks put in a small concrete patio that has three or four small umbrella tables with chairs. It's in back corner of their parking lot - adjacent to the building but away from the road and with nothing to look at but blacktop and cars - but those tables seem to be filled all the time. I'm told that we have plans to add some tables and chairs - there's a nice space directly in front where they could go but it's cover with landscaping. The plan is to just pull out two small shrubs and a short section of wall to make a single step up but the tables will sit directly on a flat mulch and dirt landscaping area - I think that will be less than appealing to our clientele.

Check out the map link here - we're just to the right of the red star on Limestone Drive. 30,000 cars per day pass by in total but we're getting a fraction of a fraction of those to stop in.

Link to Yahoo map of our location

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