The Coffee House Diaries 07.01.02: The First Investor - The Meeting Place on Market

The Coffee House Diaries 07.01.02: The First Investor

The Coffee House 2003
The interior of the coffee shop on the "terrace" 2003

It was the summer of 2002 and the date for signing our lease was approaching. I was a nervous wreck. Fear and anxiety embraced me. My business partners - mom, dad, husband - and I were going to sign a five year lease of around $1200/monthly. “What if our business plan failed?” I thought. “Would we be strapped with a multi-year lease with no source of business income?”

I was so distracted that I made a terrifying mistake one day. I needed to run to CVS for a few things (probably diapers), so I grabbed Greg, who was one at the time, and bundled him into the car. I opened the garage door and started to back out when I realized my husband, Kevin, had parked right behind me. I got out and moved the car out of the way, and drove to CVS. Twenty minutes later I pulled into the driveway only to realize that I had left Greg behind, strapped into his car seat in my car while I absent mindedly drove Kevin’s car to CVS! I was scared and tearful as I ran and pulled Greg out of his car seat. His face was red and blotchy but he was OK. His crocodile tears broke my heart as I squeezed him tight. I wondered, “what am I getting myself into?”

Greg and I had met Gene Duff in January when we went to look at a property on Market Street. Gene owned properties in Lima and Columbus but I had no idea of the extent of his business holdings until years later. He kindly held Greg for me while I toured the building. I thought it was a good location but was concerned about the level of work it needed. I reported back to my partners, and we went on to look at other buildings in order to make the best decision we could. We started to pursue the three story building next to Artspace on the Town Square, but it was purchased by someone else while we were contemplating an offer.

Gene Duff was a blessing to us in many ways. He offered to remodel the building for us if we would sign a five year lease. He engaged an architect, Tom Bowman, and invited us to work together with him in designing the new space. In the end, he invested over $90,000 in the building based on his belief in our vision and our signatures on a document.

Now we had to figure out how to fund our startup costs. Our savings weren’t enough so we turned to the SBA, banks, and friends and family next. Things did not go as we expected.

The coffee shop facing the terrace
The interior of the coffee shop today, facing the now shortened "terrace", 2023
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