Grieving a Coffeeshop

A coffeeshop I have been going to for years closed its doors today. This coffeeshop felt like a second home, and I’m sad to see it go for the employees and the community. As for myself, I did work here, had meetings here, and studied-studied-studied here throughout my five years of grad school with the best cold-blended coffee around to keep me fueled.

This coffeeshop is a chain, and there are other ones in the area; but it isn’t the same. There are a few things that made this place stand out. It wasn’t necessarily the coffee that kept me coming back, though I loved it; and I think these observations are worth noting for any business venture:

Location:

This coffeeshop was in a prime downtown area, that for me at least, was conveniently in my area of concentration when I was in town. It was in my walking path, so it didn’t require a great effort to visit.

Customer Service:

The baristas here learned about their customers and seemed to genuinely care about how their days were going. They were conversational, and I too learned about them as well. In a short period of time, they all knew my regular coffee order before I even said it. One barista, who was a math major cheered me on during the nights I studied statistics endlessly with tutoring and often inquired about my progress. That little bit of encouragement helped me in that dreaded class of mine, and that was the kind of service all the employees had—this make-your-days-better type of service. Coffee fuels people, but a smile and friendly interaction does more.

It really is common sense to have good customer service for your business, but it is quite amazing how many businesses miss this mark. This plays a great role in customer retention regardless the quality of your product.

Atmosphere:

The welcoming and friendly employees helped set the atmosphere for the coffeeshop. They spread this positiveness to customers that I felt stayed in the environment of the shop itself making it calm, comfortable, and respectful. The place brought in students studying, families taking a break with their kids, people waiting for the college football game to start, meetups practicing their international language study, businesses discussing problems to be solved…It’s been an interesting place to see this very diverse and open environment, and I loved this vibe.

The tables alone invite this sharing atmosphere. With various sized tables, there was a place for any group count. Some tables looked to be round and extended kitchen tables, almost symbolizing this coming-together type of feel. Tall lamps instead of ceiling lighting, local artwork on the walls—the decor was more home-like. Lastly, they had electrical outlets everywhere…the most I’ve ever seen at a coffeeshop. It’s as though they encouraged customers to stay, get comfortable, and get your work done without the worry of losing battery life on your laptop or other devices. A clear need for customers and another basic feature most coffeeshops don’t tend to.

In summary, I don’t know the reason why this shop closed. However, in reflecting, I think they did a lot of things right. For being a long-time customer and seeing other long-time customers alongside me, I can observe that the things they did get right was having a convenient location, putting great and personable care into their customer service, and creating a comfortable and creative atmosphere. The awesome coffee just happened to be a good by-product of this experience.

Who knows, maybe they’ll get an “extra shot” and try again some time in the future. I will certainly miss the character of this small coffeeshop, its employees, and its community; but I’ll remember the growth gained from my experiences there. It’s a business that made an impact through experiences, not necessarily products.

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