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Thread: Opening soon...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Opening soon...

    Hey everyone! I've posted sporadically over the last year about a coffee shop endeavor that is now coming to fruition! I'm starting a coffee bar in an apartment complex, sharing a building with the leasing office but having our own space, complete with large kitchen/back room, full service bar, seating areas, three public-use computers, Wi-Fi, and outdoor balcony seating. It all overlooks a river and the swimming pool. I'm employed by a local non-profit organization and we get to run the shop as an amenity for residents, rent- and utilities-free!

    Right now we're waiting on some zoning issues, but it's expected to clear up soon. We've already set up most of our equipment and will probably be ready to make drinks by the end of the week. I've tapped the people I want to hire and we're hopefully opening in March!

    I'm trying to prepare as much as I can for the operation side of things. I have limited experience from working as a supervisor at Starbucks, but now I have to face the entire mountain of bookkeeping! I know I need to have basic systems in place for cash handling and deposits and such, as well as tracking purchases and inventory. I have some resources to help me in this process, but does anyone out there have specific tips regarding shop operations that might help me? Maybe what to make sure I go over with employees, the best way to structure daily/weekly reports, etc.? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    I've followed your progress through your posts,
    and you've been very thorough in explaining each stage that you're going through.
    There's a couple of things I still don't understand.
    Number one - I don't get the non-profit connection.
    Number two - Are the residents of the apartment complex your only customers?

    Regarding employees, here's a thread containing some advice that might help:

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    To answer your questions...

    1. The non-profit connection: A non-profit organization that works with inner-city youth is running the shop. Because the income is not related to the non-profit work they have to get taxed on it as non-related business income, but they do get to keep all the profits and use it for their activities. The apartment owners allow the organization to run the place without charging them anything for it.

    2. Unfortunately, our customers will almost exclusively be apartment residents. It's a gated community and if you're a guest you can only get in when someone buzzes you in. There are almost 1500 residents in the area though, and we'll get all the leasing office traffic as well. We don't know yet how well we'll do with traffic flow, but based on pre-opening hype it looks like a lot of people are excited about the shop opening.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Thanks Villagejoe.

    My thinking is that coffee shops are cool for people on the road, not for those already at home. I'm curious to see what kind of traffic flow you receive within the apartment complex. It could be the hub of friendly neighbor gatherings. Hopefully you will keep us informed?

    I wish you all the best.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    We are now into our fifth month of operation and things are going quite smoothly. As expected, we have the problem of having a closed customer base, but we've tried to be creative in how to get bodies through the door. We struck a deal with the leasing office and they bring every leasing prospect through for a small drink, and the office runs a tab.

    We have weekly events - poker, open mic, book discussion - and those are going well and are contributing to the shop being a social hub of the community. Sales have been increasing with every month, but it still may be a year or so before we see a modest profit. Overall I'm excited about the direction we're going.

    I've been learning a ton about how to run a shop, and I've gotten to do it in a low-stress environment. We'll see how things go in the next few months.

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Sunny Oregon coast
    villagejoe do you have space for a small retail 7-11 style items milk/bread/prepared salads/sandwichs?

    The local deli has a small electric Pizza baker on a conver belt ,pizza is automatic comes out done.(cost?) Well worth the investment.

    There are many things you can offer that are not as costly, home made chilli+soups.



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