For Our Clientele, Manager Interviews Starting Up a Restaurant, Inside Look of Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar

Opening a Coffee Shop or Restaurant in a Metro area is not for the easily bored. Restaurants are subject to competition between both brands and chains.  Even though statistically speaking, start-ups control a major market share; they need to compete to a niche market or high-end clientele.  Otherwise, competition will eat them up.  Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar competes directly with two local Ethiopian restaurants, and indirectly with major chain espresso stores.  Starting up a restaurant is not a great idea for entrepreneurs with limited budgets.  Start up failure rates are a bit inflated, but over 60% will fail within the first two years.

Of course, the Interview is the beginning of Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar.  We hope they continue to increase sales and provide a friendly, healthy dining experience.

Large spread available at Kaffa Coffee in Seattle

Opening the Restaurant:

We named Kaffa Coffee after the birthplace of Coffee.  We opened in this area because we live in the neighborhood.  South Rainier deserves better quality in food, products, and services.  We discovered that a building in the Rose Street Apartments became available.  The site came with some equipment, which saved on our start up costs.  We saw it as a clean, new building, and the future of South Rainier Business development.

We want to target better coffee than our competition, and at better prices.  We source our organic coffee through Caffe Vita.  We cook from scratch organic Ethiopian food, and we serve authentic Ethiopian beverages.  We also like the diversity of our neighborhood.

The First Day:

September 1st, 2014.  There was so much work involved with opening the restaurant.  We were exhausted.  Friends and Family started the clientele with strong support.  We cannot thank them enough, and we still get help from close family members.  We gained new clientele from pedestrians and sidewalk traffic.  They were curious, stopped in, purchased a drink or food to go, and some became our regular customers.  Our espressos were our top sellers at the time.

Personal Obstacles You've Noticed Since Opening:

The amount of hours I am at the restaurant.  I spend 12 to 14 hours per day, seven days a week, at work.  I did not realize the amount of work, nor to expect 60 to 80 hour workweeks.  We have less money and time for having our own evenings out.  After work, clean up, and organization, there is hardly any time for housework at home.  Sometimes so tired, cannot even stay awake to watch a movie.  It helps so much to have housemates aid with chores at home.

Personal Biggest Positives Since Opening:

After opening, felt great sense of accomplishment.  There is no boss, and I can make my own rules (to a point).  I (Milen) am a people person, so this is the best job for me.  Even when I am tired, I can find a smile and conversation for someone.  We (Milen and Bisrat) find ourselves driking too much coffee.  But we enjoy creating coffee recipes, enjoy the chemistry of coffee and Ethiopian recipes, and the Ethiopian atmosphere.

Post Interview:

Throughout the growth process, there has been a learning curve.  Kaffa Coffee and Wine Bar did not actively start marketing until May.  They are working on increasing profit margins, and getting to the point where they can hire more employees.  They have other income that supports the slow times, as every restaurant needs.  While they initially thought this would be easy money (as most start ups do), they have grown to the point that they realize hard work is required, and expanding income opportunities needs to be in the equation.  I (the writer) hope you drop in for the "thirteen months of sunshine" slogan for Ethiopia, and enjoy delicious entrees.

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Published 7/16/2015

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