Opening a new coffee shop


New member
Feb 13, 2007
Pennsville, NJ
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Ok, here we go.

I want to open my own coffee shop. I have done a lot of research into the business, but have no hands on experience. My first encounter with a property manager got about as far as \"what kind of experience do you have?\".

I am working on a business plan, pro formas, doing demographics and observing local coffeeshops, mainly to get a feel for volume. I have seen lots of reliable and unreliable answers and would like to start a dialog with a reasonable person with experience.

I have met with SCORE....not a very good experience. Looking right now at 1,200 ft at $22 in the fastest growing area on the east coast. no sb, just outside of philadelphia, close to interstate route to Philadelphia. Tons of commuter traffic and massive home development going on. Home Depot to build nearby. You get the picture. No coffee shops within 4 mile radius and none on route to interstate (though plenty of convenience stores near interchange. Crazy estimate that I believe is between WAWA, Dunkin D, Heritage, McDonalds, etc around 20,000 cups a week sold in 600 yard radius. Don''t want to get too long winded here. So first things can I get my property manager to take me seriously? I would sign tomorrow if I could get his attention. Will be in Chicago next week at Coffeefest, too.


Comfy Place

New member
Jul 15, 2006
Bloomer, Wisconsin
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Congratulations on taking the steps to open your own business. You mentioned early on that you had a bad experience with SCORE - could you elaborate? I've attended a SCORE session (group, not individual) and found it to be very interesting and informative. As for your property manager not being very amenable to your coffee shop plan - have you gone over some of your business plan with him/her? That may help to show that you have done your homework and are serious about making things work.

Coffee Fest will be a great experience for you. Many good seminars, lots of potential suppliers to network with, etc.. We'll be there too, so if you see us, say "Hi" and maybe we could talk more. Cheers!

John P

Active member
Jan 5, 2007
Salt Lake City
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yelofk wrote
I have done a lot of research into the business, but have no hands on experience.

I would rather everyone who was serious be successful. That being said, I have to go :roll: when I read this...

"a lot of research" IMHO should include hands on experience. The minimum for someone who is serious should be:
Attend at least two CoffeeFest, taking advantage of all the offered classes from Basic to Advanced Barista training (gets your feet wet), cafe design, marketing, more marketing, how to do financials, branding, etc.
Travel from wherever you are to experience several quality caffe be it Stumptown, Caffe Vivace, Murky, Espresso DelAnatra, Barefoot, Victrola, Artigiano and Elysian Room in Canada...
Buy a high quality home (pro-somer) machine, a good burr grinder, and maybe a press pot and test, test, test many many coffees. (if you're not willing to spend a few $K testing, you're really not serious. Less costly than buying a full scale commercial machine to test on and certainly cheaper than failure.)
Continue to read, both on coffee and on running a business.
As you write your business plan, know:
What your menu will be
COGS for every item
What machine, grinder, brewer, etc. you will use AND Why.
Is there a local maintence support for X machine (24/7)?
Logo/Branding/Marketing Plan (general)
Ceramics for in house, paper to go, etc. What size, what color, how many...
Have a firm understanding of lease negotiations, the do's and don'ts, etc.
--what will your ADR (average daily revenue) need to be?
scout locations, will your concept work in these locations based on ROI?
Know that at least 30% of financing needs to come from you.
(Cash, Credit Line, People who love you...)

I'm just barely scratching the surface here, but needless to say, the phrase "I've done a lot of research" when everthing after that indicates you really haven't will send your business to be quickly spiraling down the drain if you don't take it more seriously.

Most businesses, especially our kind, fail due to lack of planning, undercapitalization (due to lack of planning) and poor location (due to lack of planning).
Plan well. Be successful.
Good Luck. 8)


New member
Mar 7, 2007
Atlantic City, NJ
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yelofk: Since you are in NJ as well, I don''t know if you are familar with the Small Business Development Center. Look them up at Its "free" courtesy of our tax dollars. We met with a rep and he was very helpful. We are on our way. I am not afraid of hard work and long hours.

JohnP gave some great advice, and most of what he is talking about is available through the SBDC. Although, I believe if you want to make this work, you will.