Warehouse Social Coffee & Smoothies opens for business in downtown Grayling
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A business has opened within a business in downtown Grayling to teach people how to run a business.
Warehouse Social Coffee & Smoothies opened this last weekend in the Paddle Hard Microbrewery, located at 118 Michigan Avenue.
The venture is a business incubator, which is owned as a co-op by employees of Paddle Hard Brewing.
“The employees all pooled their money together to open up this coffee shop inside of the Paddle Hard Microbrewery,” said Dave Vargo, the owner of Paddle Hard Brewing.
The employees will get to know how to own and operate a business, completing such tasks as inventory control, payroll, and bill paying.
“It’s going to teach them how to be in control of their money and their funds to make a business be successful,” Vargo said.
Ten employees have formed a board of directors to run the business. Other than leasing the space to the employees, Vargo will serve as an advisor when needed.
“If they come up with an issue that they can’t resolve, I’m going to help them out,” he said.
Stephanie Mora, a Paddle Hard Brewing employee, will oversee day-to-day operations. She is a transplant to northern Michigan from the West Coast.
“Having moved here from San Francisco, I’m used to having lots of coffee houses that are around and available and I missed that atmosphere,” Mora said.
Mora led the market research on businesses which were doing well in the general economy. The employees opted to move forward with the coffee shop.
The business is getting its coffee and espresso from Higher Grounds in Traverse City.
“It’s my first time doing something that is this big, so I am hoping that we will have a lot of people interested and wanting to have a good cup of coffee,” Mora said. “We’ve gone way out of our way to make sure we have really good coffee in here. It’s all organic, fair trade coffee.”
Higher Grounds staff trained the employees on how to operate the coffee house equipment to ensure they are offering quality products and are brewing the beverages properly.
“We really want to do more than pushing a button and letting it go,” Mora said. “We really want to make this an experience for people that come in here, so they have an opportunity to interact with their barista, to have a really great cup of coffee, to feel at home and to sit and hang out here. They can use it as a little mini-office or as a place to meet up with some friends.”
The coffee shop will operate from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
The Paddle Hard Microbrewery will continue to operate its lounge during afternoon and evening hours. Employees will be cross-trained to offer customers the beverages of their choice.
Paddle Hard Brewing has a workforce which includes 41 employees.
“A lot of college kids come home for the weekend and work for me,” Vargo said.
Eventually, Vargo envisions that a small deli may offer food options to customers.
“The hope is to get some kind of food down there, too, later on – once they get comfortable with running the coffee shop,” he said.