It's been a busy summer at Public Espresso + Coffee HQ. Back in July we secured our first grocery store account with the Lexington Co-op on Hertel Avenue. To our absolute elation, it's been tough keeping coffee in stock since they launched. Today, we're pleased to announce 2 new retail locations that our fresh roasted coffee beans will be available in; the Lexington Co-op's Elmwood location will begin carrying three of our blends and you'll be able to pick up five of our roasts at WNY's first Whole Foods location on Sheridan Drive in Amherst.
That's not all we've been working on though. Far from it, in fact. Earlier this spring, the folks at Schneider Development revealed their plans for the renovation of the Shea's Seneca project on Seneca Street in South Buffalo. Eagle-eyed readers spotted clues alluding to a potential coffee shop tenant in one of the buildings three storefronts. It gives us great pleasure to share that we will be opening a cafe in South Buffalo in August of 2018 as part of this project and a larger revitalization effort for Seneca Street. Being from South Buffalo, this project feels a bit like going home for James and I. We can't wait to share more of our vision for that space, but it's still a ways off, so we'll leave that for a later date. For more on the Shea's Seneca project and overall vision for Seneca Street, head over to Buffalo Rising for the scoop!
For my sanity's sake, I wish I could say that's all that has been keeping us busy/up at night. But, earlier this summer we were presented with an opportunity that we simply couldn't pass up. Back in March 2015, on a handshake agreement and not a clue about operating a daily cafe we opened our little shop in the lobby of The Hotel Lafayette. We opened with insane hours while two of our three partners were still holding down full time jobs. Myself, James, Matt and Clinton juggled opens and closes, while coming to terms with what it takes to run a business that is open every day of the week. When we agreed to open in the lobby, Rocco Termini offered us 6 months rent-free to gain our bearings. At the end of the 6-month trial, we would either decide it was a failed experiment or draft up a formal lease for the space. Two months in we told Rocco we'd like to sign on for 3 years (or what felt like forever at the time). But operating a small business is a marathon, not a sprint, and in the grand scheme of things, 3 years is kind of nothing. You can do A LOT in that amount of time, but don't be shocked to look back and realize that 3 years have gone by in what feels like 6 months.
And here we are, two and a half years later. We've got a shop we're proud of that we get to serve a product we're even prouder of to the folks of Downtown Buffalo. We've got a team of 10+ that each bring something incredible to the table. For what has been called both "Buffalo Best's Hotspot 2015" (Buffalo Spree) and a "Coffee Kiosk" (Buffalo News - never forget (I haven't)), we've got a pretty sweet gig going. We feel we can do more though. So we will.
If you've been through The Hotel Lafayette with any sort of regularity this summer, you may have seen (or more likely heard) random construction going on in the corner storefront of the building, formerly Woyshner's Flower Shop. That work is for a new cafe that we will be opening this autumn.
It's a space that will allow us to execute a vision we've had for ourselves since the inception of our business back in 2012-2013. Everything from menu to service and natural light is receiving a major overhaul. We're gaining a full-service kitchen to introduce a daily food menu and will be introducing a coffee and tea focused cocktail menu that we can't wait to blow the lid off of.
That's not all though. It's always been the slightly quieter aspect of our business, but our roastery and wholesale business operates as the backbone of Public Espresso + Coffee. It's what lets us do what we love to do in our shop or at farmers markets. James and our Assistant Roaster Zach have grown our roasting business into a beast of its own. For the last two years, we've been roasting on Buffalo's West Side out of our future Grant Street location. Over time, the plans and timeline for that space have shifted more times than we can count. To the point that I'm sure we sound like a broken record when we assure folks it is opening.
The truth is, we've struggled to strike a balance for that space that could house our roastery and be a cafe we'd be proud to operate. With the rate our roastery was growing and the capacity needed to house green coffee beans (they ship on pallets of 132lb. bags) expanding rapidly, we were running out of space to fit a reasonably sized cafe and roastery. In the last few weeks, we've come to a solution that solves both problems. The Hotel Lafayette has a 3,500 sq. ft. that is fitted with the ventilation needed to run a coffee roastery. It has the space we need to grow our roasting business for the next 10-15 years with a little extra room for a definitely-maybe-if-we-get-our-way bottling line for things like kold brew. It has a loading dock, office space and more. In short, it's perfect.
That might leave you wondering what the deal is (if any) with Grant Street. Well, we haven't given up...
sIt just so happens that our Grant St. landlord built a brand new building on a vacant lot directly across from our current spot. We've signed a lease for the corner storefront with all of those beautiful windows you see. We won't put an opening date on it this time because we don't want to jinx ourselves, but we can share that we've submitted drawings and are waiting on final bids from contractors. We have the same vision for Grant Street as we do for The Hotel Lafayette and Shea's Seneca. Cafe. Kitchen. Spirits. If all goes well, early 2018 is not out of the question. But don't quote me on that. Fine, quote me on it, but please don't say mean things about me or my dog if I'm wrong.
Alright, I've rambled on for long enough. These plans have all come together very quickly, relatively speaking, and we've only just begun to wrap our heads around all of the major changes and what it means for our business, our team and our plans for Public Espresso + Coffee. As nervous as we are, we could not be more excited to see this all come to fruition. We look forward to sharing more of the construction, menu, research and design processes for all of these spaces as we move forward. And we especially can't wait to have you as our guest this fall.
Sam, Public Espresso + Coffee