Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Making our dreams a reality

Tuesday, February 2nd 2010 - Groundhog Day - My introduction

Everyone entertains the idea of owning a coffee shop at one time or another. Why? Because everyone loves going to a coffee house, whether it's the local Starbucks or a small quaint hole in the wall, with mismatched chairs, local art, heads hidden behind laptops and that feeling that you belong. I'm no different. I love the coffee house scene and even more than that, I have that entrepreneurial spirit - it runs in my family.

Now at this point in my life it is time to take the plunge, never mind the bad economy or all the doubts that keep entering my mind, the fear that pricks at my skin every chance it gets. Something about this feels right. Even the timing. Here we are in Napa, California. I've lived here for the past 20 years and I'm ready to move on. Moving to Portland Oregon, where in one breath someone will say, "Oh what a great city", and the next breath, "oh, but how are you going to stand all of that rain?" I was born in California but have had the opportunity to live in some other locales, even places without ideal weather. North Dakota for example. Denver, Colorado for another. And what I have found is that it is the people, the sense of community which draws me to an environment, over the weather. You can live in paradise, but if you don't have any friends, any real connections, even the sunny perfect days can get very depressing. So, with that said, I'm ready to try and endure the endless days of wet and gray.  But maybe you should check back with me in a year's time and see how I'm faring with my new Hunter rain boots, raincoats, and frequent visits to a spa where they have that special sunshine lighting, I might be singing a different tune.

I started searching Craigslist for businesses to buy mid year last year. I searched the entire Bay Area, too expensive, Napa, too expensive. I started to lose hope. It seemed like every place I would choose to live would either cost me as much or more than where I already lived. We thought about Portland and took a quick 3 day trip in December to check it out, look at a little real estate and get a feel for the place. I wasn't that impressed. I was happy to be home three days later. I put Portland out of my mind. For a short time. But it keep nagging at me, this obsession with a coffee house, and a city like Portland seemed the perfect place. They have hundreds of coffee houses already, this I know, but the people there really embrace their local shops, they all have their favorite, it is almost a form of ownership for them. They get involved. So, after my daughter left L.A. and moved to Portland we went up a few more times, still happy to return home after each visit.

I kept scouring the ads on Craigslist and responded to a few of them. Eventually finding the one that would become ours. It just looked like too good of an opportunity - we could afford to get into it. After checking out the space, the inventory, the neighborhood, doing some market research and just hoping for the best, we decided to throw caution to the wind and put our hearts and soul into opening this incredible little place that would be ours. Artistry Cafe. A real test as to what we were made of. The stamina, patience, fortitude and love that would be required would be a challenge, but we were ready. Notice was given at my job, to our apartment, and now the work begins looking for a new place to live, packing, finding movers, getting into our shop by March 1st, getting it in shape and ready to open by April 3rd. Exciting and overwhelming, this is going to be great. It is actually going to be all kinds of things, but I'm confident that the good will out weigh the bad, and we will be successful in bringing forth a space that not only serves great coffee, pastries, and other wonderful edibles, but nourishes so much more. The creative spirit that we all have. So, here we go, our adventure begins and I will document it all. The little boring details, like signing a lease to our opening day to a realistic account of what it will be like running a coffee house. Stay tuned.

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