Thursday morning, at 7:55 AM, I stood on the sidewalk of a busy street and warmed my face in the morning sun. I was outside a freshly painted restaurant facade with a brand new neon side that said “OPEN” in the window. At 8:00 AM, the sign blazed to life, the door to the restaurant opened, and the owner of the restaurant, my friend James, stepped outside and shook my hand. I followed him in and ordered a coffee and a breakfast sandwich.
As part of my payment, I handed him a dollar and said, “You might want to frame that.”
I was James’ first customer for his new business, a counter-service cafe in our neighborhood.
Right after Christmas last December, James landlord evicted him from the space he leased for his coffee shop when negotiations over the next leasing period broke down. In the following six months, James found a new spot in the neighborhood and designed his next iteration.
He ran an online campaign on “Mainvest,” a micro-investment platform for small business and I was one of his first investors there too. His aim was to raise $40,000 to get the new space outfitted and ready to serve customers. He achieved that goal in around 10 days.
Five years ago, James started his business as a coffee cart at Saturday markets. He grew to a coffee shop and a roasting business and has now replaced the half-day coffee shop with an all-day restaurant.
Most of the people who invested or visited for his soft launch are relationships he built along the way. When I walked by the cafe this weekend, I was happy to see it as busy as it was when he opened the doors on Thursday.
I don’t think he could have started with an easy investment and a clientele like he did. He built all that good will over years of interactions. It’s a good reminder that the quick growth we often see has roots that stretch back years.
What are you building the foundation for in your interactions today?
James campaign is still open, check it out here: https://mainvest.com/b/denizens-cafe-portland?inNetwork=true
Featured image is the facade of Denizens.