Barista Magazine

APR-MAY 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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E n g a g i n g L o n g - T e r m C o m m u n i t y O M I S O O ! but rather the people who have yet to move in. "After I signed the lease, Tony [Santoro, of Enderly Coffee] said, 'You should go to these discussions they're having about how gentrifi cation is happening in West Charlotte, and how we can learn from mistakes made in other Charlotte neighborhoods,'" says Ian Kolb, owner of Cuplux Coffee Drive-Thru in Charlotte, N.C. Cuplux is on the west side of Charlotte, and Ian has never lived there. "So I attended a few, and those conver- sations really put things into perspective. I don't live in the neighbor- hood, so I was self-conscious to open in the west side. I didn't want to be perceived as someone trying to exploit the neighborhood." Ian says he's been welcomed, but he does notice when people treat his café as a golden outlier in the area. "Sometimes people come in and say, 'Oh, we're so glad you're here because there's nothing here.' And that's sort of a backhand compliment, so I say, 'Actually, there are a number of thriving businesses around here.' When I see others with their lenses on, I try to correct them," he says. "In our café, we always point out other businesses that have been here for years." Another reason cafés get tied in with gentrifi cation is because they are community hubs. "Coffee shops and bars are places that people gather—they don't just sell things. Coffee shops are the places that create socialization," says Jeffrey Parker, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of sociology at the University of Chicago. "Coffee shops are sort of the front lines. If you don't live in a neighborhood, the exposure you have to the neighborhood will likely be things that can be consumed." Jeffrey notes the fact that cafés and bars are places where people gather to eat and drink can infl uence how non-native inhabitants perceive their surroundings and engage with longtime residents. "Coffee shops provide a place where people can spend time together. And if residents think they're bringing in people that shouldn't be there, it's easy to point to them as changing the neigh- borhood," he says. For many, the argument would end there—you can't control who walks into your café, can you? Turns out there are a number of signals, signifi ers, and steps a café owner can take to help ensure all kinds of folks feel welcome. It just requires a bit of work. If the act of building a café brings to mind just the logistics—buy- ing equipment, hiring, and physically creating a space—you're not alone. Ian of Cuplex Coffee, however, points out that engagement with the community has to be on that list, too. "People need to prioritize it, as much as you prioritize hiring new employees. Reach out to neighborhood associations; reach out to people in the area. Make an effort in an educated way. And hire people who live in the neighborhood," he says. Across the country in Portland, Ore., Ian Williams did exactly that when he opened Deadstock Coffee—it was part of his original mission. "I'm a person who loves community and community spaces," he says. A sneaker afi cionado who has designed shoes for Nike, Ian craved a space where other sneakerheads could come together. He didn't like that bars excluded young people, so he went with a coffee shop and opened Deadstock with the intention of creating a space where people could hang out. "I wanted to create a space where it's okay to stay … coffee shops have the potential to be anything," he says. "There are people who come in to have a fi rst date, and people who come in to study or to hang out and talk about shoes." Ian recalled some off-putting experiences he had had in cafés. Many places in Portland, he says, felt "sterile, with white walls and no one wants to help you. You enter these spaces and you leave feeling pissed off, but you don't know why." At Deadstock, Ian hires people who "instinctually want to help you. Finding those people is the biggest part of hiring." Every person who walks into the café is greeted by a staff member—and not just with a quick hello, but a comment or question to let the person know the employee is there to help. "The space between the register and the entrance is short, and there's no menu—baristas have to make it a point to introduce themselves," Ian says. Empowering employees is key, especially when you operate doz- ens of stores. "Our managers, shift leads, and baristas are the face of the business. They're the ones really running the business, and the way we empower them to make good decisions is key," says Lori Haughey, VP of retail for Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago. Along with being equipped with strong leaders, she says, each Intelligen- tsia shop is designed to create an experience meant to serve its patrons. "The service models at every Intelligentsia have to speak to the neighborhood," she says, specifi cally noting the company's location in Logan Square, a neighborhood in Chicago often refer- enced in gentrifi cation discussions on a city level. "The service model C N G N 97 www.baristamagazine.com

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