Starting A Local Coffee Shop - A Couple's Dare to Dream, Part 1--one couple's story of opening a coffee shop, told from the husband's perspective! thebakeristalife.com
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Starting a Local Coffee Shop – A Couple’s Dare to Dream

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Welcome to The Bakerista Life! This blog is dedicated to those of you who dare to dream. We are Stephen and Stacy Johnson, owners of Sourdough Cuppa Joe in Hixson, Tennessee.  Almost two years ago, we did something courageous. We opened a small startup coffee shop and bakery! This blog is a place for talking about what led us to do this, what keeps us showing up day after day, as well as lots of fun, contests, giveaways, and two-way conversation with you, the reason we do what we do! 

If you are already a fan of our business, this is a way for you to engage with us on an even deeper level. If you’ve never heard of Sourdough Cuppa Joe, Welcome! We look forward to using the blogging platform to make meaningful relationships with you! If you are a new follower of Sourdough Cuppa Joe and want to know more about our story, visit our Story page on Sourdough Cuppa Joe’s Website.

Who Are We?

Stacy is from Red Bank and I am from Knoxville, Tennessee. We met at Carson Newman College. I think they actually call it Carson-Newman University now, but I digress. We have two wonderful children whom we homeschool. We currently live in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.

I grew up the son of a coffee drinker (shocker, I know), but I did not begin to drink coffee until college, and I did not develop a great appreciation for specialty coffee until I was in my early twenties, somewhat of a long time ago now, I suppose. Great specialty coffee has become a passion of mine since then, and was a major contributor to my decision to open Sourdough Cuppa Joe!

I began my work experience with Chick-fil-A in Knoxville. Honestly, I was a clueless, terrible employee (I will share how this has given me great patience for young people starting their first job in a later post), and within the first month I was having a heart-to-heart talk with my new boss about how I was “not getting it”. He called the meeting. As I said, I was clueless. Thankfully, that was all it took to get my attention, and now, 24 years later, I own my own business in the foodservice industry, the same industry I started working in at 16. My 22 years of experience with Chick-fil-A is largely what gave me the confidence to take this leap into business ownership almost two years ago.

Starting Sourdough Cuppa Joe 

My great love for serving people and my love for excellent coffee and my desire to own my own business was a perfect trifecta in my mind. Stacy started making different varieties of homemade bread, and I had the beginnings of a menu forming in my head. The idea was great, but my experience told me that I could probably never make it work. The costs would be too high, the sales would be too low, and the logistics would be insurmountable for an individual like me with no corporation to back me up. With that mindset, I set out to prove that starting my own business would not work before I ever mentioned it to Stacy. After running scenarios and numbers over and over again, my mindset began to change, and I saw a real opportunity coming into focus. I later learned that it would be very, very difficult, but more about that in later posts.

I met with anyone who would sit down with me to show them my plan, and continued to develop and refine my vision for Sourdough Cuppa Joe. Over the course of about a year, things really started to happen. I had a plan for getting great coffee from Vienna Coffee Company in Maryville, TN. I had a plan for getting the equipment we would need to make our specialty coffee drinks and baked goods. Now, we needed to zero in on a location. I suppose I was more than a little picky, as I would not even entertain a location without the possibility of a Drive-Thru. This proved to be a major road block until we opened up our search area to include the Chattanooga, TN area and found the building which was the former home of Nana’s Frozen Custard up for lease and, about a month later, we were committing to a two-year lease. Yikes!

It does not seem possible, but we are coming up on the time to renew that lease. Our first two years have been full of both times of great excitement and celebration and times of not knowing if we would be open the next month, but everyone, and I mean everyone (whether they have owned their own business or not) says that this is the way it is in newborn businesses. We are very excited to begin sharing our journey with you through this blog! 

We look forward to sharing Stacy’s side of the story in a near-future post. After all, there are two sides to every story.

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