Has anyone built their specialty coffee house from the ground up? What advice do you have for someone trying to build the building (not just a drive thru) and start a specialty coffee house?

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So, I take it with no one replying to this that no one has built there business location from the ground up. You know that really isn't very encouraging.
Denise, not true.
Until the way the "talk coffee" feature was changed, alot of really good questions fell by the wayside. Plus, it seems to me that closer to the weekend, the less people are around here.
I have helped a few people build and/or upgrade cafes.
A few pieces of advice:
1. make sure all of your permit and code shit is legit and up to standards. I dunno how it is where you are, but here in Sacramento, the fire code dude (as an example) will come out, say something isn't cool, and wont come back until 3-5 weeks later (we're talking small stuff that you could fix while he's there, but apparently thats not how it works).
2. measure, then measure again, and before you cut anything, measure again. I know there's more than a few people on here that have built cafes (specifically the bar area), to only find out at the very end that the bar is a 1/4 inch too small for their machine.
3. Since you have control of everything, be creative as possible. I can't start to remember how many cafes I've been to that have great coffee, good service, but the vibe and decor were cold, horrible, ghastly, etc.

and most of all, good luck!
Really Denise...there is too much to it just to be able to post on a message board. I personally have gone from a dirt floor shell of a building to a full service coffee bar. My suggestion is to find someone close to you who has a coffee shop that you like and start talking with them. Most of the time you will find that people are willing to share.
Other than that, there are several industry professionals on bX who you can consult with.
Sorry is not the answer you might be looking for but like I said, there are books written about it because there are so many variables.
In the process of doing a similar project. I would agree with Benza's comments and add that you should work closely with a design team that has a good understanding of translating your ideas about what you want into reality. Where I am a number of designers are very talented, but have limited understanding of cafe design. I am sure this is not a problem in the US or Europe, but make sure they have solid experience in designing commercial cafes- water feeds, drainage, HVAC placement etc can all be expensive alterations if not put in the right place during construction. Benza's point on creativity is a huge one. Going outside the square makes many of the worlds most popular cafes what they are. Building from scratch gives you some big opportunities to incorporate design features into the building you would not have if you were renting existing space. Things like using natural light. Anyway, good luck...keep us posted on progress.
Thanks for the replies; I was mostly just asking if we were alone. It's been such a slow, long, drawn out, process so it was getting a bit discouraged... And we haven't even broken ground yet!

We had a specialty coffee consultant but he quit on us because of "irreconcilable differences" over the logo design... he and his art team thought we were "too hands ons."
We have a great layout and for lack of a better word, theme. The name, the look, the logo, the building design
We have a great architectural firm that has done several projects for Jack Daniels. And has been great to work with once we got though the initial phase of learning about each other's ways of communicating.
We are working with Big tray for equipment. We jumped the gun with espresso machines and bought into that whole 'Cafe in a Crate' deal. We have bought and paid for two full deals.. one with a dual espresso unit and one with a single for the drive through. It comes with all the pitchers, grinders and small wears needed. The grinders are a bit to small for our primaries but I thought we would use them for our straight shot shots and Americanos because we felt they would use specialty roasts. I talk about this in a grinder discussion.

It wasn't their job because our consultant was supposed to handle the HVAC location and a lot of other things but the Architect and her team has really been great at working with me and teaching me enough so I could finish all the loose ends left by our consultant. (I may have mentioned him on other topics). He has been very unprofessional and is trying to keep 100% of our initial payment... what a pain in the back side!!!
Hey there,
We built one shop in a a new strip center from a dirt floor and metal studs and have done coffee bars co-located in existing buildings. Bottom line, both are a pain but we got a 1600Sqft from the studs location done much quicker than we have been able to get an espresso bar opened in an existing office building, you would think it would be the opposite. I agree with all the previous posts, we were very fortunate to find an experienced coffeehouse to buy into their lessons learned and that saved us a lot of heartache! Unless you have done construction before, the devil is in the details. Pull all your board of health and building codes prior to doing anything! That will dictate plumbing specs, lighting specs, seating allowable, and pretty much everything else that you are trying to do to create your concept. Good luck and stick to your vision!
The City is not a problem. We researched all the codes before and I carry them in with me when ever I need to ask the city folks a question. They are very helpful and know I'm willing and wanting to comply.

The problem we have faced that is still a canker is Mr D.L. of C.P. that we hired as our specialty coffee consultant.
If I could turn back time I would go back and hire Matt Milletto like I really wanted to in the first place.
D.L.'s misrepresentation of himself and his business lead us down this path because I didn't check him out properly and do my homework first... we might have avoided all this hassle and we might have been open by now instead of looking at an empty lot.
Sorry... I'm I have nothing positive to say about D.L. or C.P. (email me I'll ID who I mean)
Hi Denise,
We just built from the ground up and the best thing we did was to seek out a top industry consultant. Although initially we thought it expensive, in the end we were so grateful we hired Andrew Hetzel of Cafemakers. The money was well worth it, frankly it was an investment and we've never regretted it. If you go to cafemakers.com you can research them.
My husband is building our first coffee shop from the grounds up and so far everything is expensive. If I knew how I would send you some pictures. I have told my friends and family by September this year ..... not happening. I have changed the dates twice now. I need to get measurement on the coffee bar. There are so many plumbing to think of. What kind of information can we exchange. this is new to us.
It took us 3.5 years to find the right location.
We have been paying on the mortgage and working with an architect for the past 1.5 years.
We now have an opportunity to buy the old house and lot next to our property and it will complete the plot of land and give us a temporary location were we can renovate and use it as a starter location. This will let us get in faster, see how it will do in our area, and see how we do in business. Because it is right next door we won't confuse of customers by moving across town. I am so happy! things are moving forward again.

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