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      WARNING!   07/26/16

      By reading or participating in the Coffee House forum, you are acknowledging that some topics may be highly controversial in nature. While we make every attempt to ensure that no one and no groups are offended as a result of discussions contained within, we unfortunately can make no guarantees. Participate in threads contained within this forum at your own risk.

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ciordia9

Charlotte, Cafe, Culture, and Buildouts

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One day my ears got warm and I knew someone was talking about me. :yahoo: Come to be monsoon mentioning the Levine project that fell through recently. I had never been to this site but boy am I glad it passed by my radar as I'm loving having a local connection to the cities projects besides my eyes.

Charlotte is an interesting beast. I've lived here for a little over 20 years, since I was in second grade I think. I've seen Pineville go from the boonies to high-end Ballantine, the Arboretum areas forrest to shoppingplex, Waxhall no longer seems like such a drive. While some things seem the same, South Blvd & Independence while changing still seem a large part their original gritty selves, Matthews fights to remain the same even though it really needs innovative city-planning, etc. What an interesting time it's been. I've always thought of Charlotte and it's outlying areas as one of the nations best incubator cities. Comfortable and green, we're not too trendy as to have it all, but we desire it, we're not too poor (a city) to not afford things, just enough things to do (now that downtown isn't as conservative). With the culinary community continuing to grow I think we might have a real foodie future if those who go to J&W cut their teeth locally. I'd love to see more Trotter like retaurants here. Just about any well executed thought can find root here.

Hence why I've stayed to try and bring a little cafe culture to the area. We were, and still are, dissapointed that Levine has decided to halt construction for at least a year while trying to mitigate steel prices. Coffee in Charlotte has never really been done right. I won't go in to terrible amount of details; least to say the java bean has a lot more science and art than the simplistic commodity the large conglomerates want to make it.

29018935_451cbe1f0f_t.jpgFlickr Latte Art

Every area needs a great coffee shack that they can enjoy run by people passionate about the products, their employees, and the community. In the country there are probably only 30-40 excellent cafe establishments. I'd really like to get this level going here! So we're back to location scouting and I've had a good eye for the next few years, Rae Rd. & Audrey Kell will develop the other side (ingress) of traffic 06/07, the new South Park developments (behind) have gone well and the new highrises are amazing, even if nearly filled already, Epicenter and it's ilk will increase the skyline and I certainly hope they do great, the Levine project across from Village Lake/Monroe Rd. -- probably farther now than it's projected time, etc. Finding a location now seems strange though. Providence Road is an empty corridor of well established retail. Couple of good building centers degrading that could be kicked down like the Carmel Commons area has done recently. Matthews won't allow drive throughs, and they really need to upfit some of the strips in their area. Now of course Matthews has o.k'd the huge auto-mall for 07 which will be an interesting experiment if not eyesore. The old Gateway store on Sam-Newell & Independence is still gateway owned and they won't sublet even though they'd have a helluva lot better chance micromanging that property than to just let it deteriorate. Park road has come up nicely but it's a little confusing, feels like its searching for an identity, and the $tarbucks has already cornerstoned visibility.

Anyone have some suggestions for the SE areas for a retail establishment? We're scouting in the Carmel, Ballentine, Fairview, Providence, Monroe, Independence .. and surrounding corridors. Hard to make heads or tails yet. January should be a good traction month if all goes well.

In the end, it is good to meet you all and I hope we can have some more discourse on Charlotte's never ending dramas. Maybe have a get together sometime and rumminate over a cappuccino.. or beer ;)

-a

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Well welcome to the forum! You are right that Charlotte suffers from a lack of good coffee. One of the problems that you are going to have to overcome is that many people here think Starbucks is the place to go for a good cup of Joe. Many people here would suggest that downtown CLT might be a good place for a coffee shop, but I can imagine the economics of getting that to work is going to be difficult.

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Well welcome to the forum! You are right that Charlotte suffers from a lack of good coffee. One of the problems that you are going to have to overcome is that many people here think Starbucks is the place to go for a good cup of Joe. Many people here would suggest that downtown CLT might be a good place for a coffee shop, but I can imagine the economics of getting that to work is going to be difficult.

Thank you!

I'm really glad they exist is my first thought. The buck went and did the hard work. They taught the consumer that there is something they might be missing, and the consumer really does like it. Unfortunatly (or for us fortunatly) the larger you grow the harder it is to control creative quality (without decentralizing), so like McDonalds, they drove a product into the door, but they have taken the life out of the product. They over-roast for shelf-stability (organics die within 14days), char will always taste like char. In an effort to consolidate training their taking the art out of a barista's work by hooking subpar super-automatics up. So more and more they are like MickeyD's, something one can eat, but over time not a preference if there is better. It all starts with a simple question, is what we serve you something that tastes better? The rest is reams of education over time that should make for a long-term customer and aquaintence.

Downtown is an option I just don't know the landscape as well. I've always lived in the second to third band of charlotte, never the core. You are right in that the economics get difficult. You have to be more of a NY/very urban Coffee house <400sqft rather than something more like our original plan @1750sqft. That doesn't bother us too much, the commute might ;) Like I just mentioned our original concept was quite large, enough space to hold a plethora of high grade product centers as well as enough room for community centered fun. Now we're wondering since we have to redraw so much whether a better move for us in the area might be a smaller foothold that we can meme something greater, and then show positive growth and do a second store that allows us greater flexibility. Oh the throes of a new business, and the dain bramage of having to rework a plan.

If anyone who dig's a good cup of coffee feels like stepping out one Friday morning. Counter Culture Coffee, one of our regions excellent roasters has an open door cupping (think wine-tasting) of a selection of their Coffee's every friday morning at 10a across from the Brown Derby on Morehead (1435 West Morehead Street). I hit them up every other week and will be there Dec. 6th (I believe thats the date) next. Good people, good coffee, fun to explore.

-a

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That's interesting about Counter Culture. I looked at their website and I was surprised they had such a presence in Charlotte as I always assumed they were just a Triangle institution.

As far as coffee houses go, that is a tough one. They are a combination of atmosphere, location, and hopefully good coffee. I have tried most of them in the CLT area and it is really tough to find one that has all three. I understand the need to have a drive through, but it does seem to me that would be a big atmosphere killer. Kind of like a dunkin doughnuts shop.

My favorite coffee shops in the area for atmosphere. (where its good to go just to sit and have coffee) are the Caribou on East Blvd, Summit Coffee in Davidson, and the former coffee shop in Noda that is where the Evening Muse is now. (or was)

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Downtown is an option I just don't know the landscape as well.

There's a great coffeeshop sized location that's been on the market for awhile in first ward - in the cityview lofts project. I'm not sure of the story there -- originally some people who lived in the neighborhood wanted to lease it for just that, but for whatever reason it didn't work. It may have had something to do with allowable uses. David Furman did mention looking for a coffeeshop for a space in Quarterside. Most of the new developments are including retail spaces that would work really well for a neighborhood amenity such as a destination coffee shop. I think if you do consider downtown, it would have to be away from the heart of the business district (already home to Starbucks, Caribou, a couple other chains and Therapy Cafe)and be more deeply located in one of the wards, close to a growing residential population of coffee drinkers, IMO. Keep your eye on the plans though - a redeveloped park space between the CBD & 3rd Ward, home to street festivals, weekend recreation and baseball park crowds could be a great location for down the road.

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The best coffee in the city IMO, was Peebody's at Sharon Corners that closed several years ago (not because of lack of business, but from management issues....at least that is my understanding).

Good luck, and it's always great to see local business owners looking to make a mark here....with that said, I hope you reject any location that promotes architectual blandness and low-quality buildings. Find a place that is identifiable unique to Charlotte.

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Yep, CCC was until a year ago a rather Durham based idea, they supply a fair amount of coffee to regional restaurants. Fantastic people. I'm glad they opened a training facility down here.

You're right that it's a tough mix. Adding a drive through, while sales increase has to be well engineered or it can be problematic to ambience and that is right in that top three of location & quality. Drive through is a hard sale anyhow.

I really wish a well-to-do independent had that Caribou east location, pheneomenal for the walk-ins, neighborhoods, and morning exodus. What was the name of that NoDa cafe, I went there once but it went away a while back and Smellycat is really bad. If you want a good cappuccino head to Java Passage in the Sussex Square building, it's a lobby hut persay but the owners Bob and Barbara work very hard to bring quality to the table.

This has been a great way to roll my day up, thanks for being here! hehehe! These forums rock.

-a

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Yeah I agree about that Caribou location. One of the things that really hurt it was the opening of the former Planet Grill next door. It completely changed the "feel" of the place. And the current bagle place is a magnet for families and their kids which unfortunatately spills over onto the Caribou side. I don't really go there anymore.

Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the Noda cafe. It had wonderful atmosphere, but the coffee was really bad. And as you mention, the smellycat cafe does a really bad job of coffee too. One of the problems these places have is they use over roasted beans (I think that is a trick to hide low quality) and they keep the beans until they are used so they are usually rancid. There is a place in Huntersville called Jackson's Java that has this problem. I have heard they roast their own coffee, but a trip inside that store, shows rows of plastic grocery store bins of beans that look as if they have been there for decades. The coffee is like battery acid. haha.

On the earlier comment on being near Starbucks, it is possible. Believe it or not there are two Starbucks in Birkdale Village. A full store and another one inside Barnes & Nobles. Despite that however another coffee shop opened (I think the name is Cafe Mia) that seems to do quite well competing against the two SBs. The main difference is they offer better service and coffee and sell sandwiches. This place might be a place worth checking out. While you are up there, there is another new coffee house in a new urbanist development between Huntersville and Cornelus on Bailey Rd. (@ the Hwy 21 intersection) It seems to do well, but I have not been in there. They advertize they sell Dilworth coffee which I am not a big fan of.

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Being on the east side of town, I would love for you to come to the Plaza Midwood area ;) There are not that many good coffee places over here. 7th st starbucks used to have good baristas, but now with the automatic machines it is just no longer good and as has been mentioned before Smelly Cat, which is probably the closest to my house, is just not good either. Nova's took over the coffee shop on Central at Pecan and they really have no idea what they're doing with coffee. But from the sounds of it, it seems like it's this way all over town, so you are onto a good idea! My husband and I normally go to SKNet Cafe in Elizabeth. Java Rose on the outskirts of NoDa has been good the couple of times I've been there too.

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Don't forget that, in addition to Targets, Bank of America is closing all of its Harris-Teeter Instore locations and HT has said they will be replacing those with Starbucks as well. Since the SE part of town had the brunt of the BofA instores it will most likely be getting the brunt of the Starbucks replacements. If your adament about a SE location then the shopping center in Ballantyne where the new indie cinema is going could be a good spot since you could grab alot of in-going and out going movie traffic. But again, Starbucks would be across both Johnston and Ballantyne Commons from you. A drive-though would also be unlikely.

I tend to agree with authentic being though. Plaza-Midwood seems like a great spot. Near Thomas St. Tavern and the Penguin. Or Elizabeth Ave. in Grubb's development, you could grab the Presbyterian Hospital and CPCC traffic during the day and the late night crowd at night.

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My husband and I normally go to SKNet Cafe in Elizabeth. Java Rose on the outskirts of NoDa has been good the couple of times I've been there too.
SKNC I have yet to be to, they seem more oriented towards their evening venue than a stable coffee house, but again I've only paid them attention through their website. Java Rose was taken over recently as I understand it and are really trying to learn how to get it done right. Reinvesting in equipment and looking closely at their bean selection and process. I hope that they will develop further as the guys seem to have some passion in them. I met one of the owners at a recent cupping.

I tend to agree with authentic being though. Plaza-Midwood seems like a great spot. Near Thomas St. Tavern and the Penguin. Or Elizabeth Ave. in Grubb's development, you could grab the Presbyterian Hospital and CPCC traffic during the day and the late night crowd at night.

*jots down a few notes from the various locations mentioned* I haven't thought of the Plaza area in a while. I used to hang out in that area about 5 or so years ago. Fine borders of clean and dangerous. How's the development been?

Yep, I read an article on 7 new *bucks opening over the next two years, two more in the airport alone. I'm not afraid of starbucks, really, no well run cafe should be. If you've ever been to the Northwest you can throw a quarter in nearly 360' and hit an espresso vendor. Market ususally shows that people won't drive 5 minutes to get their coffee, very location bound. Starbucks is savvy though, they'll offer 20 year contracts, first right of refusal to other coffee shops, and then if their numbers don't hit they'll stiff the property owners and continue on. They've turned into a very calculated machine.

Good feedback so far gang. To my list I underline the Ballentine area for another perusal, the Presby area around prov/randolph/hawthorn, Plaza-Midwood really needs relooking at, speaking of Sharon Corners I haven't really looked into the Quail-Sharon nook enough since I was a kid.

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i was @ java rose a couple months ago... and was impressed. the coffee was great. i don't know if it has changed owners since i was there but the guy who owned it was from s. america. he supposedly owned the farm there in which he harvested the beans... who knows... all the same it was good. also, have you guys ever had crossroads coffee in waxhaw. there have been times that i've had their coffee and it was excellent... however some of the people that work there are pretty weak.

**they used to sell a shirt @ crossroad's that said, "WAXHAW, gateway to marvin." man, that still makes me laugh.

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YAY! The forum is back. What happened Metro? My favorite coffee spot is Caribou on East. I guess I am biased since I live nearby but I think it has a great vibe and is busy all week and packed on the weekends. Its a great combinaton of gaysngoth although we do get squeezed by the soccermom and churchfamily invasions on the weekends. Why not explore a coffeehouse in Wilmore along or near Camden? That area is really starting to blossom.

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YAY! The forum is back. What happened Metro? My favorite coffee spot is Caribou on East. I guess I am biased since I live nearby but I think it has a great vibe and is busy all week and packed on the weekends. Its a great combinaton of gaysngoth although we do get squeezed by the soccermom and churchfamily invasions on the weekends. Why not explore a coffeehouse in Wilmore along or near Camden? That area is really starting to blossom.

Yea the Camden area is changing nicely. I'd give it another decade to flush out fully. Still a lot of dirt/empty shells only a few streets back. I said Sussex square in another post, I meant check out Java Passage in Camden Square, not sussex.. dunno where I drew that from.. Used to be a Queens Beans on Camden too but she's gone. Kind of an odd duck, but if your husband owns the building I guess you can do what you like. ;) I'd love to play in the whole Camden->South Blvd->East->Queens->etc ringlet but I feel the area has enough general service now (btw check out Newstand on Morehead, while the cup needs a bit more work Katherine and her crew are working hard). There are so many areas not being served at all, I'd like to share the love, then enter some other markets. I still don't know how much commuting weighs in to the equation. So many things to reweigh. :wacko:

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:(

aww

i was @ java rose a couple months ago... and was impressed. the coffee was great. i don't know if it has changed owners since i was there but the guy who owned it was from s. america. he supposedly owned the farm there in which he harvested the beans... who knows... all the same it was good. also, have you guys ever had crossroads coffee in waxhaw. there have been times that i've had their coffee and it was excellent... however some of the people that work there are pretty weak.

**they used to sell a shirt @ crossroad's that said, "WAXHAW, gateway to marvin." man, that still makes me laugh.

:lol: that's funny, yeah i've heard of that place.

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There is another interesting article in today's Lake Magazine (put out by the Charlotte Observer and comes with the Lake Norman version of the paper) called Coffee Shop Culture and it focuses on the local coffee shops at the lake that compete against the chains. Sorry I don't know if they have an online version or not.

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Here's a well-timed article from Slate about running a cafe.

http://www.slate.com/id/2132576/nav/tap1/

Worth a read, maybe.

Yep. We've been working on the logistics for over a year and know many of the caveats faced. It takes a lot of understanding the market, the location, realistic goals, and above all a solid plan. A lot of people enter business under emotional pretexts or those of "I need to do something new, lets drain the 401", bad idea. We've had some of the industries best consultants behind us and gone through every section of our local SBA/SBTDC/SCORE (which are very very helpful btw) to shake our plan, our numbers, our logic, over and over again. We're not in this to fail, we're in this to build something.

I read once an entrepreneur can't be a dreamer. A dreamer doesn't see the process, one must have vision to see the road to get where you're going. You get in business to run a business first and foremost. You can't help anyone if you don't have a healthy business. I think food network has a scary little series called Made by Design or somesuch and you see how little planning most people do to start something.

Everyone can make something; it's how well they plan, execute and adapt to change that makes them last or not.

-a

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