Coffee Houses and the Like: Where Do We Go From Here?

21 Apr

My dream, for many years, has been to open and run a coffee house not unlike Wired. Coffee’s a delicious drink, after all, and I saw a good chunk of how the business itself is run.

Since those days, different people, myself included, have speculated on what caused the Fall of the House of Coffee. My own opinion is that the financial fears increasingly forced from everyone’s hearts what Wired was actually about: a vehicle, a manifestation of Divine Love, a calling to hearts of the artist and the seeker from the Voice of God: “Come, come as you are.”

In other words, the ideal, the purpose, the meaning that made Wired what it was became occluded with fear and confusion. President Obama said in his inaugural speech that what makes us Americans is ultimately “not this, not that” but our ideals. This point hammered straight through all political ilk, propaganda, and bias. We are not Americans by virtue of our heritage. We are not Americans by arbitrary choice. We are Americans because we have ideals of justice and liberty, peace and prosperity, and ultimately a movement forward to face the unknown with the helping hand of God- whatever you choose to deem “God” to mean.

So long as we hold fast to our ideals as Americans, we can live out those ideals and pursue the American Dream.

The parallel is that as long as Wired held its ideals, it would endure. But we lost the ideals, traded them for what security and whatnot, and look what resulted.

I don’t mean to make light of the financial aspect of things or to say that there are no concerns in the outer world. What I mean to say is that the power of reality flows from the inside out, and that what we hold in our souls is what will manifest in the world. Thus, if we hold to the ideal of who and what we are, we will begin to see this appear in the world around us.

Ideals are called ideals for a reason, for as they manifest, they take on a definite and specific form instead of being the generic and non-specific form.

Wired’s inner world may have looked quite different, and then it took on the form of a simple coffee house. I recall one of the most staunchly atheist patrons of Wired later saying that we would be hard-pressed to go anywhere else and find the same kind of “energy” that we encountered there, and of course, he has been correct. I have personally looked long and hard, never having seen quite the same thing.

Then the idea came to me that I should open my own coffee house. I understand the idealism of things, but the practical manifestation becomes more difficult. Where to get the capital? Where to get the workers? Decisions about aesthetics and menus are something that are within my grasp, and learning to actually prepare coffee and various foods, so, too, is within the realm of my own hobbies. Perhaps my expertise is in the focusing on the ideals, holding them firmly in my heart, but that doesn’t manage the books or pay the bills.

The approach of kindness to the customer, of forging a relationship with each person as not only a special individual but also as a part of the greater whole of what would appear to the outer eye as a business- this is something I understand how to do. To welcome, to give hospitality, to make someone feel included- as these were certainly things neglected in my own life in my childhood and beyond, forcing into my awareness who is and isn’t included.

Do you remember the commercials with the money man dressed in question marks? His name is Matthew Lesko, and he advocates that one can find grant money for all kinds of things. Years ago I read part of his book and did research on the matter.

Matthew Lesko articulated the best thing about working I have ever seen: he said, point-blank, that no one really wants to be leisurely all the day. No one wants to be on vacation all the time. Rather, what we really want in terms of a career is to be able to fall asleep at night, tired from doing something we truly loved all day. That has influenced profoundly, and I can say without a doubt that working hard at something that you enjoy changes one’s approach to life.

But let’s back up. The first step is finding money and a place to run a business, and of course, there is the ridiculous amount of red-tape through which one has to jump, as I experienced first hand with the opening of ReWired. Then there are other major considerations: finding a location with a high amount of traffic, finding a location where the neighbors aren’t going to complain forever, advertising, finding a particular company to supply the coffee and so on.

Some people have suggested that one should only open a coffee house to run it as a business, pure and simple, but that’s exactly the problem: life is interconnected. People don’t visit coffee houses just to go buy coffee and a doughnut; the real deal of a coffee house is a place where one can go and have a social gathering; a coffee house sells its space, its venue, and that is precisely what will keep people coming back.

The point is to give people something different, to market to them something that is rare and that they can’t get just anywhere else. I know the things that attracted me to Wired, and I suspect that other people will similarly follow suit.

Furthermore, I have a crazy idea about not competing with other businesses but interlocking with them and helping them along the way. Treat people who are struggling kindly, and they will treat you kindly back. This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

Oh, well, this may sound like a pipe-dream, but when I become a published author and become rich and famous, the Harris family name will go on to become synonymous with “coffee house.” Better to try looking at it optimistically than not!

Please look forward to my next set of ramblings. I promise I’m not a Polly Anna.


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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in coffee house, postaday2011


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