Long Island Operator Raises Profile With Unusual Coffee Store

by Len Rashkin
Posted On: 12/11/2018

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  Len Rashkin
The office refreshment industry has evolved over the years, and recently has grown from a new concept into a reality as many operators move into micromarkets.

There are, however, many areas of the country in which there are not enough high-traffic locations to encourage operators to invest in micromarkets.

One area that’s light in large corporate employee populations is eastern Long Island, NY. That’s not to say that there are no good locations for micromarkets in this territory, but there are far fewer than in western Long Island’s New York City suburbs. This has not stopped OCS operators who know and love their product from finding ways to expand.

One such coffee service operator is Gary Contes.  In 2003, he purchased his cousin’s coffee service, Colonial Coffee Service,  in Port Jefferson Station, NY. Its founder, Chris Pappas, has been a dear friend of mine since 1968, when he started Colonial Coffee and I started Coffee Sip Inc.

 
Gary saw an opportunity in 2016 to open his “Village Coffee Market” in the old village of Stony Brook, NY. This is a quaint area of Long Island that has several wonderful restaurants and more than 30 specialty shops, across from a beautiful lake. The neighborhood is now called Stony Brook Village Center.

The Village Coffee Market displays a wide array of vintage coffee makers, original coffee storage tins, coffee giftware and mugs, baked goods and baking mixes, chocolates, coffee by the pound and – best of all – more than 160 different brands and varieties of K-Cup.

What makes the selection of single-serve hot beverages so wonderful and interesting is that you can purchase any quantity, mixing and matching different brands, straights and flavors. You need not buy 10 or 12 servings of the same coffee.

Gary provides each customer with a “hand pallet” for convenience as they walk around the store. The pallet is dark wood, with 24 holes to hold the K-Cups.

The pricing starts at individual servings for 95¢ each, and steps up to 12 for $9.95, 24 for $16.95 and 96 for $62.95. National brands include more than 20 selections of Green Mountain Coffee, as well as single-serve selections from Barrie House Coffee, Brooklyn Beans, Newman’s Own, Caribou Coffee and others.

The Village Coffee Market also has its own private label, Terrace Café, which offers the largest selection of flavored and straight coffees. Country-of-origin coffees include Colombian, Kenyan, Sumatran, Kona and others.

Gary takes pride in his private-label brands, which include a tasty selection of flavors like caramel-cappuccino, Southern pecan, cinnamon-hazel nut, pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cappuccino, in season. Some of the more decadent flavors include blueberry-cinnamon crumble, chocolate-maple bacon and red-velvet-hot chocolate.

While I was shopping with my wife Marilyn, Gary offered us and his other customers a delicious bold (not bitter) cup of Italian espresso with a whipped cream topping.  It was heavenly.     

Gary reported that he has picked up new corporate clients through his retail store.

Prior to opening the Village Coffee Market, Gary advertised with a colorful flyer and offered his wide selection of K-Cups and other single-serve coffees out of the Colonial Coffee Service warehouse. He had his route driver drop off these flyers to  businesses located in the surrounding industrial parks.  Gary was surprised by how many people came to purchase and turned into new coffee service accounts.

Gary Contes saw an opportunity to expand his business in a way that most OCS operators have not done. Large and small operators are still reinventing the wheel in refreshment services to be more profitable. If you have tried something new and would like to share with our VT readers, please contact me at (516) 241-4883 or by email at OCSconsultant@aol.com.

Please see my full-page ad in this issue of VT on OCS Sales Training & Route Driver Training to sell Allied Products.  As an incentive, you can deduct an extra $100 off my list price and also receive the Route Driver Training for free. Please mention that you saw this offer in VT to receive your discount.


» LEN RASHKIN is a pioneer of office coffee service. He founded Coffee Sip in 1968 and later merged it with Dell Coffee, of which he became president in 1991. Sales at Dell topped $7 million. He also founded the Eastern Coffee Service Association and National Beverage & Products Association. He is a speaker at trade conferences, consults on OCS sales and marketing, and is the author of two OCS training programs.