Pumpkin spice season is here — and so is Starbucks.
A new coffee shop, which is a licensed “Proudly Serving” Starbucks location, has been added as an extension of the Jefferson Street Cafe located inside the Department of Economic Security (DES) building at 1789 W. Jefferson St. The grand opening is on Tuesday, October 15th, and there will be special promotions on many of the food items, including free coffee.
This is a win for all coffee lovers who work in or near the DES building. This is a particularly special win, however, for the owner and operator of the Jefferson Street Cafe, Tim Mead, and the DES Business Enterprise Program (BEP). Mead took over as the owner of the cafe back in 2016 as a participant in BEP. The program’s mission is to provide employment opportunities for legally blind individuals to own merchandising businesses, like cafeterias, coffee shops and vending operations.
Mead has been involved in BEP since 1996. During his time in the program, he has run other, smaller cafes, and also operated vending services for about 20 years. As a mainstay in the program, BEP Manager, Nathan Pullen, asked Mead to be the interim operator of the Jefferson Street cafe when the previous owner retired.
“It’s one of the greatest benefits of this program, that the individuals participating in it have an opportunity for sometimes a very significant income,” Pullen said. “They are self-supporting, they are supporting their local economy, creating local jobs, they’re supporting themselves and their families, and they’re not needing to rely on public assistance.”
BEP helps the operators by providing and maintaining all the equipment the business needs to be successful, like kitchen and dining materials, and even money counters that are equipped with braille and audio functions. While BEP gives the operators all the tools needed, the operator is the one who owns the facility and makes all the calls regarding items being sold, personnel and everyday business functions.
Initially, Mead wasn’t so sure about opening a coffee shop in his cafe. He wasn’t sure if having a Starbucks would diminish his cafe sales, but after looking over his numbers from the first two days of the soft launch, his morning sales have been up about 20 percent. That’s without any real marketing.
“I’m really excited. I’m one to try new things, and I get bored pretty easily,” Mead said. “This is a new venture, something different, and I think it’s a great opportunity. I have a good crew here, a good general manager, and I think we’re innovative and come up with new things. I’m excited about it.”
“We’re fortunate enough here to have a lot of people in the DES building who support this cafeteria and that gave us an opportunity to remodel what used to be the dishwasher room,” BEP Manager Nathan Pullen said.
Tim Mead in his office with his money counting machines to the left of him.
This is now the sixth coffee shop offering Starbucks products in BEP, and Pullen is always looking for more opportunities to expand, and give more eager people like Mead a chance to participate in the program.
To learn more about BEP, visit BEP online.
By Ben Flores