question for the group

coffee_addicted

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Jul 6, 2008
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Daytona Beach
first off thank all of you for the great information you put out there to help others.
I have been interested in opening a coffee house for many years, even before I worked for one, but have not made the plunge yet. Anytime I am driving around and see a buiding or land up for lease or sale my first thought is would it make a good site for a coffee house. I have my Business and Marketing plan done and have found two sites that I feel would be great locations. The first one is located on the main Boulevard in the city. The building is within walking distance of 2 university's, 1 college, 1 high school and a very large hospital. Within a mile radius there is 2 more colleges and across the street is a major tourist destination for certain times of the year( but we have other tourist events from October till June). This site is very large ( and would be designed as a true coffee house with sit down and live entertainment and coffee related retail and so forth. The second location that I am looking would be a drive through location. located on the morning side of a double lane divided road. This location would be located near the entrance to two major express ways and is one of the two roads out of the city. speed limit is 45 here and there is a new large plaza going in across the street.
My question is if it better to start off with a drive through to get your feet wet or make the plunge and start off with a coffee house?
 

John P

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Jan 5, 2007
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Salt Lake City
While there are basics that will be the same for the two, they are really two different animals.

Level of service, attention to detail, products you will carry, equipment you may choose to use will differ from the sit-down vs. the drive-thru. As there will still be a substantial investment for each, I would go where your heart really is, and then mesh that with all the work your head has already done.

Ideally, I would look for a third, or fourth location. And for these reasons: First, don't fall in love with something that can't love you back. Second, a large space will cause more problems, rather than less -- extra space has to be filled, it costs more to heat and cool, more people, more staff, more design issues. And additionally, the thought of live-entertainment, etc. just to make the space work is counter-productive to establishing a solid identity. Don't try to be all things. A coffee shop should be about the coffee and if a selling point is the entertainment, it could easily cause problems in the long term growth and loyalty area. Lastly, it is better to have too little space and be full than have too much space and not be. The worst thing that happens; you open a second location.

Keep looking. Think more.
 

John P

New member
Jan 5, 2007
1,045
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Salt Lake City
A Japanese restauranteur once said to me.

"Do you want to appear successful, or do you want to be successful?"

Think about efficiency of design in terms of lighting, heat, storage, and small, but well-trained staff. Limit waste of space, product, and labor-- find the space that will best fit these goals as well as the goal/vision of your shop.
 

ElPugDiablo

New member
Jul 16, 2004
991
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
coffee_addicted said:
The first one is located on the main Boulevard in the city. The building is within walking distance of 2 university's, 1 college, 1 high school and a very large hospital. Within a mile radius there is 2 more colleges and across the street is a major tourist destination for certain times of the year( but we have other tourist events from October till June). This site is very large ( and would be designed as a true coffee house with sit down and live entertainment and coffee related retail and so forth.
How large is very large? Have you ask about the possibility of subdivide the very large space? It depends on your concept, you may need more space than you think. For me, the ideal size is 1200 to 1500 square feet with basement storage.

Also, what do you want to have? If you are looking to have a Friends type of cozy neighborhood Phoebe and Ross hang out place where atmosphere and cool factor take priority over quality of coffee then you might need space for music and poetry reading. If you want to go for coffee perfection, then you don't need those distractions, and therefore a smaller space will do.

As far as the location, how many students are we talking about? 2 university's, 1 college and 1 high school totaling 5,000 kids is not as appealing as one university with 15,000 kids. By the way most college kids are booze drinkers, and rather pick up one night stand at the local watering holes. Only a small fraction go to coffeehouses. And if you cater to the kids, grown ups may go elsewhere instead. What you need to figure out is can you get at least 400 people a day to spend 3 dollars at your place day in and day out. You want walk the walking distant from the 2 university's, 1 college, 1 high school and a very large hospital to the location. If the walk is not pedestrian friendly then the location may not work for you.
 
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coffee_addicted

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Jul 6, 2008
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Daytona Beach
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How large is very large? Have you ask about the possibility of subdivide the very large space? It depends on your concept, you may need more space than you think. For me, the ideal size is 1200 to 1500 square feet with basement storage.

I was looking for something around 2000 to 3000 square feet. Here in Florida we do not have the luxury of basements they have a tendency to turn into indoor swimming pools. lol


Also, what do you want to have? If you are looking to have a Friends type of cozy neighborhood Phoebe and Ross hang out place where atmosphere and cool factor take priority over quality of coffee then you might need space for music and poetry reading. If you want to go for coffee perfection, then you don't need those distractions, and therefore a smaller space will do.

I was looking to do something along the line of the "friends" hang out but a little larger. I want to create a relaxing type of enviroment where friends can meet and hang out and people can come to study and network without all the noise and drunks of bars. I was also looking at doing maybe some type of entertainment of Saturday night whether music or murder mystery theater to give the 40+ age group an alternative to the bar scene.
 

ElPugDiablo

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Jul 16, 2004
991
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Hartford and New Haven, CT
coffee_addicted said:
I was looking for something around 2000 to 3000 square feet. Here in Florida we do not have the luxury of basements they have a tendency to turn into indoor swimming pools. lol

I was looking to do something along the line of the "friends" hang out but a little larger. I want to create a relaxing type of enviroment where friends can meet and hang out and people can come to study and network without all the noise and drunks of bars. I was also looking at doing maybe some type of entertainment of Saturday night whether music or murder mystery theater to give the 40+ age group an alternative to the bar scene.
2000 maybe OK, be careful with a 3000 sq ft space. 5 occupied tables in a smaller space looks snuggle and cozy. 5 occupied tables in 3000 sq ft looks dead. Image, as Agassi said, is everything.
 
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coffee_addicted

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Jul 6, 2008
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Daytona Beach
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My plan it to have leather sofas, chairs and coffee tables also with the regular cafe tables. I figured that I would need a larger space to keep away from people feeling they were sitting on top of each other yet small enough that it still had the cozy atmoshere.

I would be interested to hear if others have this type of set up and how it is working out.
 

chip

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Oct 1, 2008
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Space

We have a counter that seats 5 or 6, 18 tables, some small, some larger, and a little upholstered chair area with an aquarium. We have 4 upholstered chairs with a rug between them. We get quite a few moms with kids who hang out in the chairs and let their kids watch the fish while they talk.
We have a tucked away corner booth that is semi-private with plants and stuff around it too. It's a nice mix of spaces and is broken up some. I was in a new restaurant recently and it had a large seating area with rows of tables like a cafeteria. They also had a black and red color scheme and it was a bit hideous. So, I think it depends a lot on what you do with the space. We get quite a few students studying here, people having small meetings, regular groups of individuals who meet often in the morning just as a part of their routine. We like to be a community kind of place. We do live music a few nights a week as well.
 

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