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American Metalware supplies gourmet coffee retailer.

Coffee Direct is a gournet beverage retailer located in a large shopping mall (Crossroads Plaza) in Salt Lake City, Utah. Designed and owned by Mark Kirkham, Coffee Direct takes up just 160 sq. ft. of premium space and uses up a half kiosk in the center of the mall. Because it is in a mall, there is a constant stream of customers. Another real location advantage is Temple Square, the city's largest tourist attraction, which serves as the national headquarters for the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). It's a short walk away and attracts as many 2,000,000 visitors a year from all over the world.

Besides attracting out-of-town tourists and conventioneers, Coffee Direct also appeals to the local business crowd of downtown Salt Lake City. Regional, as well as local shopers, stop at Coffee Direct for coffee and dessert, or just to take a break. The location has evolved into a natural stopping point for many before they continue shopping or leave the mall.

Kirkham explains that his store is "strategically set-up at the beginning and end of the foodservice chain. Coffee Direct is a popular stop for morning coffee and the last stop for dessert. Many customers start their day with a cup of coffee from us, while others visit us to finish up a day of shopping and browsing in the mall."

Coffee Direct, however, offers much more than just coffee. Kirkham's menu board contains specialty coffees, 16 different espresso drinks, 14 kinds of pastries (half of which are baked on premise), nine gourmet cake selections, teas, juices, hot chocolate, and iced cappuccino. Coffee Direct's strategic location and diversity of products have helped it become a profitable business venture within a mall setting.

Kirkham relied upon 30 years of experience in the foodservice industry when he developed the idea for Coffee Direct. And since he spent a great deal of time fine tuning the layout and floor plan of his operation, he did some exhaustive research before purchasing equipment. The success of Coffee Direct is as unique as the innovative concept Kirkham has marketed. He's taken advantage of the current popularity of espresso and made it work in a market where a large percentage of the population is Mormon. Followers of the Mormon faith abstain from coffee.

"The real beauty of Coffee Direct is the simplicity of the operation. Everything behind the counter is within three steps of the work staff. Customer requests can be handled quickly and efficiently with a minimal amount of running around. I spent a full year researching and perfecting the layout of the store. Practically everything is at my staff's fingertips. But, despite the compact design of the operation, we offer a wide variety of espresso plus other drinks, freshly baked pastries and desserts that appeal to a diverse customer base," according to Kirkham.

In order to better equip his small shop, Kirkham needed the most compact brewing equipment possible.

"I decided to invest in American Metal Ware equipment for a number of reasons," said Kirkham. "First of all, the equipment takes up about one third the space of a conventional espresso or coffee maker. That was an important consideration since i had a very limited amount of space to work with. The machine may be compact, but its definitely a big-time performer in terms of efficiency and consistency."

"I consider American Metal Ware to be the Rolls Royce of coffee equipment," observes Kirkham. "They're designed to keep coffee fresh and at a constant temperature for up to two hours with the dual wall stainless steel containers. I have more flexibility in that I can brew half batches quickly and easily, which is important for cost considerations. They're easy to operate and maintain, so it's easy to train my staff (made up exclusively of part-timers who are college students). They produce a smooth, consistent, quality beverage-and that's important to my regular customers. Plus everything is made in the U.S., so replacement parts are readily available, should I need them. With European-made products, you can wait as long as three to four weeks for parts."

Another real plus for Kirkham was the support staff at American Metal Ware. "Their engineering and customer service people are great. They're very responsive and take tremendous pride in what they sell. I visited the factory (in Northbrook, IL) and was impressed with the craftsmanship and pride that goes into every product they make. They are true professionals in every sense of the word. And it goes without saying that my equipment can make me or break me at Coffee Direct."

"American Metal Ware's Vesta espresso maker can easily meet the demands of a high volume operation," according to Kirkham. "I think its size and attractive price may fool some high volume foodservice operators who feel that the best espresso makers are all made in Italy. My two American Metal Ware machines (a Vesta espresso maker and a P-400 dual coffee maker) are excellent examples--the quality is first rate, and they stand behind what they make every step of the way."

Coffee Direct opens at 6:30 a.m. each morning to serve their regular flow of customers who pick up their favorite espresso drink with a fresh pastry. In a typical day, Kirkham's outlet will serve more than 150 cups of espresso and 300 cups of coffee. The Crossroads Plaza store has been open for a little more than one year now, and its popularity has persuaded Kirkham to consider franchising the concept.

Coffee Direct's success is based on Kirkham's wealth of experience along with his attention to creating a fully functional operation within a small amount of space. Layout, design, and equipment selection are critical to his marketing strategy. Coffee Direct is essentially a turn-key operation that has capitalized on the current trend toward specialty coffees, while offering a wide variety of beverages and desserts for broad customer appeal.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Coffee Direct
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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