Kids and coffee.
That’s the mix Kim Haweit hopes is successful. The 30-year-old Fort Wayne mom likes a good cup of joe as much as the next person but found most shops not conducive to her lifestyle.
I have a 3-year-old son, and taking him when I meet up with friends can be a challenge, Haweit said. If we go to Starbucks, he’d be all over the place because there’s nothing for him to do.
About two years ago, Haweit’s brother in California introduced her to a coffee and sandwich shop that promised to give her a chance to sit back and relax – and was kid-friendly.
The establishment was Java Mama.
I loved it and immediately thought Fort Wayne needs something like this, Haweit said.
So, next month she will open Java Mama Café across from the Time Corners shopping plaza in Fort Wayne at 5916 Covington Road.
The National Coffee Association reports that 83 percent of U.S. adults drink the beverage in one form or another. The $30 billion industry saw a 5 percent increase in consumption in 2013, so no wonder entrepreneurs are percolating.
Proprietors, though, are learning it takes more than cool jazz and coffee to lure customers.
That’s likely why Starbucks plans to turn more of its cafés into destinations for beer and wine in the evenings. The coffee company wants to expand alcohol sales to thousands of locations over the next several years. The chain first offered beer and wine after 4 p.m. at one of its Seattle cafés in 2010.
Starbucks Evenings is now available in 26 cafés, with plans to reach 40 by the end of the year. It is uncertain if the concept will appear in Fort Wayne. But the trend to offer more than coffee will continue as consumers become more demanding in their preferences, retail expert Sharon Burns said.
It’s one way to build profits and leverage what you have, said Burns, a retired professor in Purdue University’s Department of Consumer Science. Businesses are looking to looking for new markets and services during off-peak hours.
Burns said a coffee shop catering to parents of toddlers or selling alcoholic beverages is creative but warned that such business models likely will need to draw from a wider customer base.
Married and single (moms) likely won’t go there every day, she said.
Jane Rich agreed. The regional director of the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center said an establishment like Java Mama can work provided it has clever marketing that doesn’t alienate other potential customers. She said the business may be making a mistake if it caters to parents only.
They need to make it clear that others are welcome, Rich said. The public perception can’t be that this is going to be like Chuck E. Cheese. Young adults without kids probably won’t be attracted to that.
Haweit said no worries there.
That was one of the things that attracted me to Java Mama. When I went there, it wasn’t loud like a (romper room), said Haweit, who previously worked for her family’s chimney business. If you’re working, need to meet with a client and have a place for your kids to play, this is a great place.
Java Mama will provide instructor-led classes for children, a supervised play area for children 6 and younger and, of course, gourmet coffee, drinks, sandwiches, soups and salads for adults.
We will have healthy snacks for the kids, too, Haweit said. The average cup of coffee will cost $1.85.
Java Mama is the brainchild of Alicia Campen. She opened her first café in 2007 in La Mesa, Calif. Other locations are in Folsom, Calif., and Alberta, Canada. Openings are planned in Washington, D.C., and San Diego.
Rich said operating niche businesses in larger cities makes sense.
I was actually in Seattle a year ago and went to a Starbucks that sold alcohol, she said. It has a population and demographic big enough for something like that. In Fort Wayne, I don’t know. I like the idea, in general, though.
Lee Lemon bought Our Daily Brew inside the Time Corners plaza in March. The outlet sells coffees, teas and related fare. Lemon, a businessman with 20 years of experience, says most of his holdings are Internet partnerships but sees a storefront as a way to showcase the establishment’s offerings.
I would not have bought this if it was only a coffee shop, said Lemon, 43, whose e-commerce businesses include an online radio station and an artisan studio. The landscape has changed from when the original owner opened this shop. I intend on using the Internet to promote and sell the more than 8,000 products we carry.