My Java Journal

Mobile Coffee Shop: Fourth And Final July Update

The VW bus. Update number 4 – what’s up with my search for a VW bus and my plan to convert it into a mobile coffee shop.

I was looking seriously at one bus. It was a 1972 bus, but it wasn’t a pop-up camper. That wasn’t a showstopper, but the bus was so meticulous that the price was high, and negotiations were proving a challenge. Moreover, the bus was snowed in and there was no way for me to see it properly. For the price, I definitely wanted to see it running as it had been sitting for decades, and this wasn’t proving easy to facilitate.

This past Spring was a tough one and it held on a long time. By the time I was able to get to see the bus I had lost traction. Starting in April I got busy with end-of-school-year events and soccer, and numerous other commitments. As well, I had doubled-down on events at Anabia’s through June to help David celebrate his 2nd year anniversary. That was a lot of work. Not to mention, that new job I started, which I shared last week, had wiped out my routine and impacted my spare time and energy.

What I was able to accomplish before the chaos though, was getting in touch with the city and Ottawa’s Food Business Ambassador program. They provided all the regulations and permit resources I needed. Then they hit me with the one item that keeps coming up: location. It seems nothing can move forward without having a location identified, even for a mobile option. I suspect the city knows that one has to meet regulations to be in business, so their primary concern is the location; which likely dictates many of the regulations and permit considerations.

Therefore, whether my mobile bus eventually finds a home on public or city land, or a privately leased (or purchased) spot, the city seems less concerned with the vehicle and coffee ‘shop’ itself. They are very interested in where it will be located. That puts me back at square one: find a location.

There was progress elsewhere though. Another productive step was making contact with Public Health which provided all the information I needed to meet their requirements. Same deal again: location!

The city, on both accounts, was responsive and helpful. I will give them that. They did provide a lot of great info and resources. I am armed with much of what I need. Now I need to get back to looking for a location and finding the bus.

With respect to the bus, I am going to restart my online searches in mid-August. The plan is one hour a day and to also put the word out and hope perhaps that a lead can be found in this way. I guess this post kind of does that too. If you happen to come across a decent 1970’s VW camper, I will begin looking in earnest in the coming weeks.

I have been scouring the VW website, Samba, but most options are parts-buses or fully renovated, and none anywhere near me. Buying sight-unseen doesn’t excite me, so I am hoping for a more local find. I have now begun using Kijiji and will start using eBay, and of course, word of mouth.

As relates location, well, I’d prefer to find a private lease and stay away from public/city land. I’m not sure the best approach to this search, but I will figure something out.

Working inside two coffeehouses over the past year, I have seen the challenges and work needed to run a brick-and-mortar coffeehouse. This does not scare me; however, I can see how location, management model, staff, and niche concepts need to be right to make it work. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons: the need for coffee recipes to ensure consistency; understanding the drop in business during the summer; how coffee alone can’t float a coffee business (unless perhaps it’s a mobile option with no, or little staff); how so very important getting your location right is; etc.

The plan now is to continue my search for location and bus. I will, of course, stay open to opportunity. If the right brick-and-mortar opportunity presents itself, or if a partnership and other opportunity manifests, then I will definitely consider it. For now, daily searches and digging into those regulations resources will be my daily labour.

I remain busy with hosting events and printing t-shirts, and am now looking to add a monthly Open Mic gig at Jamari Espresso House. Very excited! Check out my Home page for upcoming events.

Happy Sunday and enjoy this sun and heat; it won’t last long.