Maintaining the coffeecrew website has always been a challenge. Keeping any website fresh and topical always has it own set of problems.
One of the upsides of the whole experience is meeting new people during the course of my research. One of the pleasant side effects of the success of the website is
the number of invitations we get to cafes, new and established.
The much anticipated opening of Coyote's Cafe, in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, some fifty miles north of Victoria was a good example of how all the elements come together to make a positive experience for everyone. In this case, I had followed the development of the cafe from the concept stages through to the opening of the doors. Coyote Cafe opened on a Saturday recently in March 2005. Nancy, one of the owners and partners, had been talking to me for over a year about the prospect of opening a cafe on Vancouver Island.
My interest in her project was always keen because I knew she had the smarts, the enthusiasm and the drive to make it happen. I hear, from many different people, about their desire to build the perfect cafe, bistro, bar or restaurant. Generally, I can weed out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to determining who is truly focused on completing the task.
Come of Nancy's initial successes, I feel, are part of key components in her personality; energy, youthfulness and determination. Let's face it, dropping one career in favor of another that we all know will make unprecedented demands on your time is the domain of the flexible and energetic - the young! It is like having children. I see more and more thirty and forty somethings delaying childbearing in favor of establishing career and then reproducing in their middle years. This is all well and good if you want teenagers in your golden years. I digress. A restaurant is like a new child. Anticipate long, long hours at planning and start up.
From my perspective, Nancy did a bunch of things right. She did her homework. She did her business planning. She talked to the right people. Starting any business, especially a cafe or restaurant demands perfection and attention to every detail. This article is not really about the dynamics and physics of opening your first cafe, but more about one particular cafe so let's flash forward shall we?
Appearing at Coyote Cafe, on opening day, was a wonderful thing. The first few steps into the Cafe are always exciting. Coyote cafe, much to our surprise,¬† was packed the moment we arrived. The interior of Coyote's Cafe is bright, fresh, well laid out and designed with the customer in mind. Muted earth-tones rule and they set the stage for a relaxing visit. The cafe's furnishings and overall fit and finish are exceedingly professional and could be the model for any new cafe anywhere. The Cafe did not smell like paint nor did it have that annoying 'new car' smell. The Cafe appeared polished and generally spotless. One of our biggest irritants is not the coffee, as you would initially suspect - It is the cleanliness of the joint.
Experiencing the grande opening of Coyote's Cafe was doubly fun in that I set no expectation for myself. If it turned out to be an awesome experience, great, if it doesn't, well then, no loss.
This cafe opening had a very special surprise: One of the coffee suppliers, the Creekmore's were in attendance. How cool is that? In fact, anytime I get to meet real coffee people, I am more than thrilled. The Creekmore's, Elaine and David, could not have been more pleasant and engaging. Generally, there are two schools that coffee people fall into; nice people and really nice people! The Creekmore's definitely fell into the latter category. It is not often that I meet coffee professionals that are willing to sit and share for hours and hours on end. They really do love the business and are open to sharing some of their knowledge and mission. We very much hope to be hearing from them again!
All in all, the opening of Coyote's Cafe was a wonderful experience. Friends were there. Old friends appeared. Finally, a dear and true friend was graduating from the cosy world of her regular day job, leaving it all behind, to take that big chance on something as risky as a cafe.
Nancy and Philip will do well. You and your team have all the right stuff and I very much look forward to following your growth and successes.
Colin Newell lives, works and drinks great coffee on Vancouver Island. Opening or planning a cafe? Give us a call - opinions are free.