This week, as promised, I’m continuing our series on interviews with those in the foodservice industry.

This interview was conducted with the Blue Spoon Café, located at 517 Commerce Street, Bluefield, West Virginia. My boss occasionally buys us donuts from this Café and I think they’re some of the best I’ve ever had!

The interview was conducted through emails and the owner of the shop, Nicole Coeburn, answered each of the questions.

How and when did you start your business?

Coffee Shop

"The Blue Spoon Cafe is a darling dining destination in the heart of Bluefield, West Virginia. I reopened The Blue Spoon Cafe in September of 2017. Adding my own flair, I've grown the business with a large returning customer base, a full menu, a doughnut and dessert destination, catering and event venue rental, and a full-service coffee shop."

What was the inspiration behind the Blue Spoon Café (Its name and concept)

"Formally opened by The Bluefield Preservation Society in efforts to revitalize Downtown. The Cafe was opened a year under their ownership and then sold and closed for almost a year before reopening. The Cafe' is now owned and operated by Nicole Coeburn with a love for small business and the Bluefield Community."

What is your most popular menu item? And which one would you recommend to new customers?

Lunch

"We focus on fresh food and ingredients. Using homemade recipes and offering weekly specials with specialties in doughnuts, coffee, desserts, soups, salads, and sandwiches. Our staff likes to always recommend our specials of the week due to the uniqueness and the seasonal flavors. Our top seller on our traditional menu is the Chicken Salad Croissant."

What is your inspiration behind creating new foods and specials for each week? And do you have tricks or tips for staying inspired?

Doughnuts

"For three years I have consistently created new specials and posted them to our Facebook page every Monday. It is one of my favorite things to do. I love collaborating with the staff and customers to offer something new. As the seasons change so does my taste and fresh ingredients that I incorporate. I stay inspired by having no limit on creativity. That is a perk of being your own boss."

How has COVID-19 affected the way you conduct your business? What adjustments have you made? And how has it impacted sales?

Blue Spoon Café Interior

"Mid-March we added a lovely addition to The Cafe by opening a full-service coffee shop. We were open for two days of indoor dining when Covid-19 affected our area. The Governor ordered indoor dining to be closed. A rollercoaster of emotions hit and the fight or flight response quickly took over. Praying that I was doing what was best to keep my employees in a job and keep the community fed I stayed open and adjusted my sails. As a thank you to those on the frontlines and in healthcare we started collecting donations from local customers and businesses as well as donating some of our profit to organizations and community citizens in need. We remodeled our business plan for a few months by offering delivery and car side to go. I am so thankful that I decided to remain open because the love and support that the community has shown over the last eight months has been incredible. I wouldn't be here without you.

What can those of us in the foodservice industry and the general public do to help?

"Simply support. COVID-19 has helped raise awareness of the importance of small businesses all over the country. People began to realize that your large companies have the funds to pull through but your small businesses may not be able to reopen their doors."

"Be patient and kind when visiting local businesses and realize that they are adjusting to the times and are trying to service you the best way they can under the circumstance they are in."

What advice would you give those who desire to open up their own café?

Nicole

"If you are thinking about opening your own business my advice is be sure you have a passion for whatever business you are pursuing. Passion and good work ethic will set you apart from the rest. Be prepared to spend countless hours analyzing and troubleshooting. Don't limit your creativity. You will cry just as much as you will jump for joy. Take the bad days and learn from them. Take the good days and pat yourself on the back. What are you waiting for?.......Sink or Swim."

Since we do sell restaurant equipment, are there any brands or items you would recommend others buy?

"I have several pieces of equipment from Douglas Equipment. Top brands that last for years. A perk of purchasing from this company is having the option to call and get the equipment serviced. Friendly and always helpful staff. I have enjoyed building a relationship with Douglas Equipment over the years."

Thank you so much for the praise! If anyone needs equipment locally or would like their equipment serviced, call Johnny Ward at 304.327.0149.

For our customers throughout the United States and in other countries, our e-commerce team is always ready to help. You can reach us at 888.778.4815 or shop a variety of equipment on our selling platforms – Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart - and our website! Your support means so much and we’re thankful for you all.