I’ve never talked or thought about coffee more than I have in the past few months. (I’m not complaining though.)
My project for this year will be to help develop a cafe in the lobby of Garnett.
The vision for this is not an original idea of mine, but something that the staff of Garnett & the Green Country Event Center has been talking about for awhile now. Out of all the ideas and dreams they have for what their ministry could look like, this is the one that I have latched onto.
The idea is to create an environment that allows people from all walks of life to come and inhabit the same space for a little while. To physically see that there are others out there may or may not be like us. (This can be seen by having members of the church come and meet for coffee there, where they may run into folks that are there taking ESL classes.) The space is already there, and in fact, is one of the most under-utilized spaces inside the building. It is in a central location-right in the middle of the building, and easily accessible from all the different hallways.
In our initial talks with those who rent space in the Event Center, we have heard from several different organizations that they think having a café would be beneficial. They can see their students, parents, guests staying after their class or event to grab a bite to eat and continue to spend time together. I envision students from the GED/ESL classes being able to find an inexpensive dinner before/during classes, and maybe their family members can even come up there and see them before or after classes. By making this café open when the building is currently in use (until 10pm each weekday) and providing inexpensive food and beverage options, this space could be quite attractive to people in the community. (Not just those who currently come to the Event Center already.)
Some specifics are to provide coffee, sandwiches, snacks, juice, internet and a comfortable environment. It is an ideal addition because the Event Center is already paying for most of the overhead costs (utilities, etc.) when the building is being used. This makes it so the space is better-utilized. Also, the main purpose underlying the whole idea of the Event Center in the first place is to open up the building and interact with the community. By creating a space that is inviting and accessible, then they can foster more interactions. And by making it a destination spot (instead of going to Starbucks) they can help enable more relationships between church members and guests that are there for a class, or event. We’re also talking about using this as an avenue for raising local and global awareness. With everything from the coffee we serve to eventually being able to help provide some job training to people in the community, we want this café to have an outward focus.
This is a great project for me, specifically, because it allows me to think systemically as we develop this business. I can use my administrative skills as we develop these dreams into something real and tangible (and sustainable). Plus, it stretches me out of my comfort zone as well. I’ve been having (and initiating) many conversations with tenants at the Event Center, as well as others involved in the coffee shop business in this area. I am also being stretched by having a big project to develop into something real. I really function well when given tasks, and often get overwhelmed by the idea of a project of this magnitude. And I want to be sure to keep a relational aspect of this for myself and for the café in general as we get into this. To keep me in touch with the needs and wants of the community, not just to develop this into something that fits what I want.
So if you have any advice on anything related to coffee, or starting a business, send it my way! I’m all ears.