I can’t say that entrepreneurialism is in my blood or that growing up I ever aspired to this path in life. In fact I can say that I probably never even considered it.
So where did this idea, this dream come from?
The answer: North Carolina.
Now I’ve been in many a coffeehouse over the decades and certainly many years before this idea took root. Never did I feel inspired to open a coffeehouse. But I can recall clearly that ah-ha moment where I thought, ‘Now this is what I want, to open a coffeehouse.’ This epiphany came in the early 2000’s.
It was during a military training event at Ft. Bragg where I was on a road move and decided to stop for a coffee in the early morning. It was in a little sleepy town called Southern Pines, which I believe caters to golfers but also I recall many road bicycles. This one morning we stopped into a little coffeehouse called Java Bean Plantation. It was located in a quaint stand-alone home on the main boulevard running through the town. It was eclectic in that it was laid out as a house would be; rooms with functionally relevant furniture, a rocking chair, coffee tables, and a very homey feel. You could relax in one of the small rooms or step out onto the patio. The patio provided seating under the big, beautiful pines for which one assumes the town derived its name.
There were bicyclists stopping in for a pre-ride dose and there was a clear sense of community. The atmosphere was slow, inclusive, welcoming and warm. I can’t recall if the coffee was out-of-the-ordinary exceptional but it was good. I am fairly certain I pulled a filtered dark from a push-top canister, but what really drew me in was the staff and their slow opening routine; with the dog roaming casually through the house and the sense that there was no pretension or expectation. Walking in through the front door was a well-used community board and I recall well that I felt ‘at home’ and understood what the community was about almost immediately.
That was it. Coffee in hand, out the door, back in the car and off we went.
I couldn’t shake this experience though, and during a tour to Afghanistan shortly thereafter I found that with the little downtime I had I began using it to explore online about how to open a coffeehouse, how to build a business plan and what this whole entrepreneurial thing was about.
So epiphanic was this experience that during a move to Florida several years later I selected a route that went through Southern Pines. It was important that I show it to my family to see if it was a coloured nostalgic recollection or truly the experience I now write about. It turned out to be a true memory and indeed a day in Southern Pines supported the entire memory and associated feelings. This was the genesis, that epiphanic start to the dream.