Playbook for a community cafe

A cafe owner wants to build something meaningful, more than just another average experience. She understands her most valuable customers live or work nearby. What can she do?

  • Develop a backyard patio that is free to use for everyone who lives above. As a bonus, when they get hungry her cafe will be more convenient than anywhere else.
  • Better yet, offer free access throughout the cafe for people in the neighborhood. Again, assume they'll get hungry.
  • Hire local, and discover that employees personally want the business to succeed.
  • Offer overnight bike storage.
  • Bring a tea-cart of desserts to nearby shops and workplaces to introduce people to the brand.
  • Be the local polling station for elections
  • Offer cooking and baking classes
  • Sell rare ingredients that are used in the dishes
  • Offer a produce box subscription. Fill it with excess ingredients and creative ideas. This both helps smooth out her own supply, and also introduces people to tastes in her food. 
  • Get to know her customers personally, and then make introductions across similar interests
  • Once she knows her customers, recommend them to other local businesses.

Focusing on the community isn't enough to have a successful business. A cafe still needs great food for reasonable prices. But this focus will help a business be a strong part of the local community, rather than simply another average shop.