It was a sad day when I tried to open the door and found them all locked. I could see through the windows and noticed the ladders and though it was just some re-modeling. That wouldn't bother me a bit. I could work right through some construction noise. But, it was a tear down only.
I was lucky though. The owner Daniel opened the door and spent a couple minutes speaking with me. He, and everyone else, were really bummed about closing. He told me how they had all become really close and were having a last meal in the building before they left.
So, like any decent grave robber, I asked if they were selling any of their equipment. He said someone had already come in and bought all of it for a new coffee shop opening in a few months.
We chatted a bit about what he was going to do now and he already had some irons in the fire. He was waiting to hear back from investors on a new store. I wished him good luck and took his contact information, hopefully we can work together in the future.
Afterwards, I thought about this a bit and pulled 3 major things from this experience.
1) No one knew this place existed, except for probably the church the owner went to. I don't exactly have the secret to publicity, but man they should have been at every church (that was their target market) and doing social work to get on the news, anything. Least of all, they should have had a really strong social media presence. They should have set up a tablet and offered 10% of to anyone who signed up for the mailing list or followed twitter. Drive people in.
2) The people in the store have to make it special. The coffee was great coffee from a great roaster. But the people need to brew is right and sell the experience. Least of all they need to have a welcoming smile. I ordered from Daniel once before and it was 100% different than the first lady I ordered from. The people have to make the store special, or no one will come back.
3) I know its hard to make it in the restaurant business. Something like 98% go out of business in under 5 years. That is why I am doing the debt free approach. I don't want there to be anyone who can take my business from me. One of the main reasons is that I am a Christian and this business is my vocation. This is how I want to impact people's lives. The operation and financials of a business that makes any claim to Christianity has to be above reproach. As soon as you fail, everyone around you will assign your failing to your faith. I don't believe that is correct thinking, but it has been my experience.
But you know what, as I'm writing this I cannot help but think that my God is so far above this that I cannot ruin his good name. I am just blaming my fear of failure on my faith. Haters are going to hate, that is their nature. I cannot hold myself back in fear of them. Failure is part of life and learning and should not be looked down on. CrossRoads accomplished something great by being open. And I hope for Daniel that he accomplishes something even greater in his next endeavor.