Cafes have historically been places for people to not only obtain a good cup of coffee, but also to interact socially. It can become a mirror of its community's culture when run well. Developing a coffee shop that becomes a part of the pulse of its community only starts with dusting off the welcome mat, setting out the chic cafe patio furniture, and delivering a good daily roast. It also includes creating an engaging ambience, maintaining operational checks, providing good customer service, and tending to administrative and accounting duties.
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Develop a good menu and a good cup of coffee. Reasonable prices; tasty, appetizer-size pastries; and a small selection of sandwiches and salads make a solid cafe menu. The core, however, of a cafe's menu is its fresh-roasted coffee. For example, The Coffee Roaster in Sherman Oaks, California, is a petite coffee shop that delivers a big cultural experience. It offers its international roasts daily in small batches from its antique-like, open coffee bean roaster that is on display for customers to view. In addition to offering coffee by the pound, a cafe should sell a good cup of coffee well under £1.30.
Create an engaging ambience. Design the space for multiple social experiences. This may include placement of tables that intimately seats a party of two, as well as a long communal table where single guests who want to be more social can enjoy a hardy cup of coffee close to others. Whether developing a richly themed decor or a simple one, keep it comfortable. For instance, music is always nice if it is not too loud. Also, create a public space where free local newspapers can be properly displayed, and maintain a community board for such items as business cards and lost dog postings.
Maintain periodic operational checks. Staff should make systematic checks of all cafe areas throughout the day to ensure that everything is in proper order. This includes ensuring that refrigeration systems are functioning properly, public areas are clean, and the public facilities are properly stocked. This keeps the cafe business in the good graces of its customers and public health and safety officials.
Train staff to provide good customer service. Develop the general policy that customers are always right. Also, a properly trained waitstaff knows not to talk about their personal lives behind the counter to other employees while a customer is being served. Unfortunately, this has become an all-too-common occurrence in the public service sector.
Deliver coffee at tables for dine-in customers. Many cafes have developed the culture of exclusive behind-the-counter service delivered with paper cups. For customers who are not on the go, consider using a more Old World-style waitstaff service. This includes the earth-friendly concept of offering coffee in real ceramic cups that have to be washed. It also gives more meaning to the waitstaff's "tip cup." In such a situation, a customer does not feel like he or she is tipping the staff for simply ringing up an order or placing a pastry in a bag.
Conduct daily accounting and administrative duties. After the cafe has closed, create a system for recording daily sales accounts and settling administrative tasks like arranging banking drop-offs for the next day. The book "How to Open a Financially Successful Coffee, Espresso & Tea Shop," by Elizabeth Godsmark, Lora Arduser and Douglas R. Brown, offers sound tips on both financing a cafe business as well as managing its profits.
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