I have been to almost every indy coffee shop in the Twin Cities, and I have talked with about half of the owners. I find it intersesting that most of them claim to have a unique shop that offers somthing different than anyone else. I want to know what the rest of the US is doing to truly be unique?

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Websites, ah well...hrm... somebody once told me 'the barber always has a bad haircut' ...wise words indeed. By trade I am a techie...and of course our website is down,,, my bad... and I need to take care of that. I agree with the other poster, the site does not need to be complicated... very much like yellow pages it needs to say: hours, location, menu, forms of payment, directions, services offered and not much more.

I would suggest Goggle 'coffee house' and a bunch of websites will come up. Clip the ideas you like and paste them into a Word document... that way you can show the person doing your site... I like this, this and this...

Don't let anybody start telling you thousands of dollars, you can do a decent site for $500. Hosting can be very cheap... 1and1.com can host your site for $10 a month.

Now I better take my own advise and get our site back up. Paid a friend to design/host... naturally they flaked... if you want something done right :)...

Cheers

Marek


Caleb said:
Thanks Marek,


I was wondering if you might know of any shops that really well done websites. I haven't come across any that I think are outstanding. I'm sure that there is a shop owner out there some where that is or was a web developer... let me know if you are aware of any... and thanks again for the conversation.
I know one thing I am going to have in my shop, especially given my desire to encourage adults with children to visit.

A diaper changing station in the rest room!

We went to 4 very good shops on Tuesday, and not one had a changing station. My wife walked out of the last shop's restroom, and made it very clear to me how essential that overlooked piece of plastic was.

:)

Ok, maybe that wasn't what you had in mind, but sometimes it isn't the coffee that makes your shop the popular stopping place...although it should be that, too.
Hello Paul;

Well, at one of our locations we have what I like to call the stroller brigade... the bathroom is handicap compliant but we had reservations about the changing station and here's why... I walked into a Borders bathroom once and honest to God I almost tossed my cookies... it was that bad... somebody had placed a diaper in the trash bin where it had obviously been sitting for quite some time... MAN !!!! ...

That smell in a cafe would literally kill your business...

Whenever our stoller brigade is in the staff have instructions to always check the bathroom and if they find diapers to take them directly to the garbage bin ... which is several hundred feet away... 'just far enough'.

Those little guys can be highly toxic ...

I've also always worried about the liablity of those things, to me they don't look that sturdy ... folding a little plasic thing down out of the wall and then placing a child on it three feet up in the air... would be terrrible...

Mixed feelings...
Yeah, I have four kids of my own, so I understand the implications of this. If the restroom at Borders was that bad, then the staff wasn't doing their job. Since smell is such an important aspect of our business, it would behoove us to make sure the less pleasant influences are kept under tight control. This would extend to making sure our compost bin is emptied regularly, keeping outside cigarette disposals as far from the entrances as possible.

I guess, being a parent, I sometimes receive the message that, because we have children, and because we choose to bring them along in an effort to have quality time with them, I am a less valuable customer than the "double income, no kids" (also known as "dinks") professionals that would never approve of a kid in such a venue.

Granted, I may not be the typical coffee shop customer, with my family of 6. But I am not alone. Ours is just one family among millions who like coffee, and wish we could spend time in a decent shop. I am willing to admit that children are noisy, distracting, and prone to disaster, and as such don't belong in some establishments. But these are my kids, and I love 'em, and they want to connect with Daddy, somehow, and have figured out that Daddy loves coffee, so of course they want to come along.

So perhaps it is somewhat utopian and naive of me to wish that all the great coffee shops in driving distance would have adequate facilities for my family.

But my shop can have it.

And I will make every attempt to insure that the trash is taken as far away as is possible! :) Thanks for your thoughts!
We have a changing station in our ladies' room. The layout of the mens' room was not condusive, or there'd be one there too.

I was a stay-at-home dad for a while, so really understand the importance of these things. In fact, I really resent the lack of them in most coffee shops. Its almost like not stocking toilet paper. Giving me directions to the grocery store across the street is unacceptable! I used to contemplate changing the kid on one of the shop's tables in the main dining room, since we had no other options! But I digress...

We've never had a problem with ours. We leave a stash of plastic grocery bags near the little trash can, and most mommies bag the stinky ones before stashing them there. We check after the group leaves too. Again, this has never been an issue. It is also not a safety concern - if you have a kid in diapers, you are quite familiar with the operation of a changing table. Just mount the thing according to the manufacturers directions and you'll be fine.

We love our parent-customers, they bring us lots of business, and we want to make sure they are taken care of.
Thank you, Brady, Paul, Marek,
Very interesting discussion. We have been open a year since Sept. Most scenarios described here we have had to face. No changing station but very family friendly. We never had enough room for one in the build out. I'm not sure my partner would have gone for it. I had not even considered the liability of such a service till you mentioned it here, Merak. The thought of an injured child scares me in more ways than my insurance policy.
JoeR
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
I thought that I would chime in since I have recently become a dad, I know that most of the indie shops I go to do not offer the changing table in the mens room... I don't know if the womens room have them or not. It always seem to me that the shops that don't have them are being "cheap" not only do I notice the lack of the changing station but I also notice that restrooms are kind of thrown together in a cheap sort of way. I think it's a gross over sight of most indy shops to not spend mose money on their rest rooms. Coffee shops are always described with words like, cozy, homie, comfortable... the rest room is a real chance for you to impress your customers. If they they leave that room feeling like its cheap, pourly done, and unclean they will remeber that more than the great drink you served them. For example, I go to this gas station on a very regular basis soley because they have the nicest restroom I have every scence in a gas station. One day I told the women behind the counter how impressed I was of the rest room and she said "thank you, I designed them my self." During futher conversation I learned that she owned the station and she told me that she gets 20 to 30 comments a week about her restrooms... no wonder I always have to wait in line to get gas when I go there. Long story short, I will have great bathroom in my shop.

Thanks guys, alwyas a pleasure

Caleb

Joseph Robertson said:
Thank you, Brady, Paul, Marek,
Very interesting discussion. We have been open a year since Sept. Most scenarios described here we have had to face. No changing station but very family friendly. We never had enough room for one in the build out. I'm not sure my partner would have gone for it. I had not even considered the liability of such a service till you mentioned it here, Merak. The thought of an injured child scares me in more ways than my insurance policy.
JoeR
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
Kid friendly... without a doubt... our best days ever for business are events that relate to kids. But since we're on the subject of kids... one thing that we've always thought about... is behind the counter open access.

I can't tell you the number of times some curious two year old shows up behind the counter... the staff are always super extra careful and more or less PANIC and stop what they are doing when that happens.

Hot water, coffee pots... espresso machines... YIKES !!!! I've honestly thought about getting those extendable gates people use on their stairs and putting one across the open counter area when we have small kids in.

I've also seen parents order a tea 180 degrees... dangling a child under one arm and holding the tea... while trying to pay or open the door... I always gringe when I see that... I am like... here, let me help you... or let me hold that...

Aside from the liability issue... there is the absolute fear that something could happen to one of these little guys... which is what scares me to death...

As a side note... we do have one issue... the parent with the kid-from hell... who pays no attention what-so-ever...

Little Timmy... just poured your espresso on our new leather couch... and look... now he's tearing up all the magazines and newspapers... and the parent just sits there smiling and talking to their friend... :)

Never know how to deal with that one... we actually had a lady once who got really mad at us and was blaming us for having breakable things in our cafe...
An ANSI handicap bathroom easily runs $15,000... on top of that we use very high end fixtures and always ensure that they are clean, well stocked... smell good and are working properly. We also use luxury brand toilet paper... (about a thousand bucks a month worth)... I personally hate that razor thin ... sandpaper texture paper that most bathrooms use and like you... If I am in an establishment with a crappy (pardon pun) bathroom I am not likely to go back.

Not having a changing table has nothing to do with ecnomics and everything to do with sanitary considerations... you can't believe some of the things people will do in a public bathroom. REALLY !!!



The second photo is of one during construction so it's a little messy...

Caleb said:
I thought that I would chime in since I have recently become a dad, I know that most of the indie shops I go to do not offer the changing table in the mens room... I don't know if the womens room have them or not. It always seem to me that the shops that don't have them are being "cheap" not only do I notice the lack of the changing station but I also notice that restrooms are kind of thrown together in a cheap sort of way. I think it's a gross over sight of most indy shops to not spend mose money on their rest rooms. Coffee shops are always described with words like, cozy, homie, comfortable... the rest room is a real chance for you to impress your customers. If they they leave that room feeling like its cheap, pourly done, and unclean they will remeber that more than the great drink you served them. For example, I go to this gas station on a very regular basis soley because they have the nicest restroom I have every scence in a gas station. One day I told the women behind the counter how impressed I was of the rest room and she said "thank you, I designed them my self." During futher conversation I learned that she owned the station and she told me that she gets 20 to 30 comments a week about her restrooms... no wonder I always have to wait in line to get gas when I go there. Long story short, I will have great bathroom in my shop.

Thanks guys, alwyas a pleasure

Caleb

Joseph Robertson said:
Thank you, Brady, Paul, Marek,
Very interesting discussion. We have been open a year since Sept. Most scenarios described here we have had to face. No changing station but very family friendly. We never had enough room for one in the build out. I'm not sure my partner would have gone for it. I had not even considered the liability of such a service till you mentioned it here, Merak. The thought of an injured child scares me in more ways than my insurance policy.
JoeR
--
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and palate reform.
Attachments:
Just throwing it out there that I have left shops where kids are running around and being annoying. Chances are if it is bothering you it is bothering ALL of the other customers. It's not worth losing a good customer for a bad one (and yes an annoying one can be classified as a bad one). If they can't control their child and it becomes a problem ask them to leave. It's their hangout/shop/home away from home/whatever... but it's your money, your business and your choice. If their child is from hell, send them back to it :0)

-bry

Marek said:
Kid friendly... without a doubt... our best days ever for business are events that relate to kids. But since we're on the subject of kids... one thing that we've always thought about... is behind the counter open access.

I can't tell you the number of times some curious two year old shows up behind the counter... the staff are always super extra careful and more or less PANIC and stop what they are doing when that happens.

Hot water, coffee pots... espresso machines... YIKES !!!! I've honestly thought about getting those extendable gates people use on their stairs and putting one across the open counter area when we have small kids in.

I've also seen parents order a tea 180 degrees... dangling a child under one arm and holding the tea... while trying to pay or open the door... I always gringe when I see that... I am like... here, let me help you... or let me hold that...

Aside from the liability issue... there is the absolute fear that something could happen to one of these little guys... which is what scares me to death...

As a side note... we do have one issue... the parent with the kid-from hell... who pays no attention what-so-ever...

Little Timmy... just poured your espresso on our new leather couch... and look... now he's tearing up all the magazines and newspapers... and the parent just sits there smiling and talking to their friend... :)

Never know how to deal with that one... we actually had a lady once who got really mad at us and was blaming us for having breakable things in our cafe...
I appreciate the thoughts on this aspect of coffee shop management. I don't want to hijack the thread, (although maybe we already have), but I realize that the misbehaving, coddled brat and disengaged parent are one of many land mines shops have to navigate around. We sometimes have little kids round the counter corner, and their mama will be telling them, "Get back over here!" If the child is curious and merely following his feet, not being rebellious, I gently turn them around and get them back around the counter. If the child is being rambunctious and rebellious, I have been known to look them dead in the eye, and bark, "You better listen to your mama!" Interesting how firm authority can stop a kid in their tracks. Course, maybe it's because I am a BIG man, and just a little scary when I pull the "hairy eyeball" on kids.... :)
Don't worry about taking the thread in any direction that it may go. I am really enjoying the conversation and the different perspective that everyone has.

As a 15 year veteran in the retail world I have had my share of crazy kid stories. One of my hot buttons has always been kids standing up in shopping carts... I witnessed one fall out... it was really bad! As for children in coffee shops, it seems to be a rarer occurance that I ever see a big issue, probably because I never go to coffee shops where there are children. I have included in my plan to have childrens area that is enclosed in glass, so that parents can easily watch their children play while they sit with friends. This part of my plan is going to be very dependant on the geographic location of my shop. If the demographic calls for it I will probably make the investment. I get my car serviced at dealership that offers this amenity, and I really like it. On the flip side if the demographic of my area doesnt call for it I won't have it.

To pose another question to all of you, what do you think about live music in coffee shops?

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