Coffee shop brewing for Granville Street

Colin MacLean
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It’s not drycleaners. It’s not a Starbucks. It’s not a tobacco shop. And it’s not a pharmacy.

That small building in the Summerside Walmart’s parking lot? It’s Jo Mamma’s Coffee Hut.

It’s a specialty coffee shop – and the brainchild of Carlene and Tim Kuhn of Tyne Valley.

Honestly, its been funny to listen to everyone speculating about what the building is, laughed Carlene on Tuesday.

Dozens and dozens of cars, every day, will drive slowly by the hut, or the drivers will get out and peek in the windows in an effort to decipher the mystery of the hut, she chuckled.

The level of curiosity in their building surprised the Kuhn family – so they took advantage of it.

“There was so much buzz about ‘what it was.’ Everybody was talking … so we just let them speculate. Because there was that many more people talking about it – trying to figure out what it was.

“It really turned into a good marketing technique,” said Kuhn.

But with opening day quickly approaching – the signs and menu finally went up on the building Tuesday.

They weren’t up long. So many people were driving by that they were getting in the way of the crew trying to set up Internet in the building. Kuhn had to put cardboard over them.

It kinda felt good to have to do that, she laughed.

Her family has been working on putting their business plan into action for nearly four years, so it’s nice that it’s causing a bit of buzz in town.

They first got the idea to open a specialty coffee shop more than a decade ago – their son worked for a major coffee chain in the U.S. at the time.

When they finally decided to implement their plan they estimated they’d be open within eight months.

Four years later, they’re finally ready to put the “open” sign in the window. They’re shooting for a Feb. 1, opening date.

It wasn’t one thing in particular that held them up for so long, said Kuhn, but it took a long time to buy the property from Walmart and get all their proverbialducks in a row.

And throughout all that effort there was ever-present temptation to abandon Summerside, a place not traditionally associated with specialty coffee.

They didn’t want to do that, said Kuhn.

“Being from this area, we really wanted something in Summerside,” she said.

“We come to Summerside. Our kids come to Summerside. We don’t want to have to go to Charlottetown to have something – we want to do it here. So we stuck with it,” she added.

They’re betting on residents of the area wanting something beyond the traditional double double coffee from a drive-thru – even though they’ll have that too.

Jo Mamma’s will sell free trade, specialty blend coffee, espresso, cappuccino, plus an assortment of frozen fruit and coffee drinks, tea from Republic of Tea, Frappés, and other drinks.

The hut is drive-thru only. But it has two service windows.

All the drinks are also made to order – which will mean a slightly longer wait time than your average drive though.

But Kuhn said they plan on having enough staff working the two windows that the wait will be minimal.

The fact that their building is so small will also keep their overhead low, she added, so even though their selling a premium product prices will be competitive.

Hopefully, its something that residents will be attracted too, said Kuhn, crossing her fingers.

“Sometimes you go to a coffee house to sit and relax. We’re the opposite. We’re for those moments that you’re on the go,” she said.

Colin.maclean@journalpioneer.com

@journalpmaclean

Organizations: Starbucks, Walmart

Geographic location: Granville Street, Summerside, Tyne Valley U.S. Charlottetown Republic of Tea

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Recent comments

  • jessica vandenberg
    February 20, 2013 - 13:35

    My son and family came from California a few years ago and he asked for an Espresso coffee and after searching long and hard in Summerside and surroundings we gave in and went to Charlottetown. We went almost every day of his visit. And when he comes again I can take him to Jo Mamma's. I will enjoy a specialty coffee on my shopping trips to Summerside as well. Congrats to the new entrepeneurs.

  • Julia
    January 30, 2013 - 13:21

    I just had to put in my two cents here... 99% of you have no idea of the kind of courage and hard work it takes to open up your own business. It is terrifying, especially when most of the customers will come in only once to check it out, be nosy and gossip about the place, but then never return because it's different - which is exactly what happens in small-minded towns like Summerside.

  • Sarah M
    January 30, 2013 - 13:02

    Good luck on your new adventure! We'll be stopping in on Friday!

  • Mrs. Richards
    January 29, 2013 - 01:48

    I cannot believe the negative comments on this page! This family is taking a big risk trying bring something new to Summerside! Their investment is commendable. I hope the coffee is tasty and I cannot wait to give them a try on the first. I say everyone in Summerside show their support by buying a coffee on the first day they open! Lets overwhelm them with our support and show them that this community appreciates a quality product and backs local entepreneurship!

  • Jennifer
    January 29, 2013 - 01:39

    I think it looks fantastic and I wish you all the best. It is small FAMILY OWNED establishments that make a small community thrive!

  • Tim H
    January 28, 2013 - 09:27

    I dont have a problem with a new coffee shop opening but why not use some of the many vacant buildings around town and if you're gonna put a new building up please get it designed tastefully by a professional and not like this one. As for all of you do gooders with your encouraging comments, stick to making sudden dangerous stops on busy streets to let jay walkers cross if it makes you feel good about yourself. You obviously dont have a clue about architecture.

  • Dustin M
    January 24, 2013 - 09:30

    This looks fantastic! Looking forward to checking it out when I'm home on the Island. Best of luck.

  • coffeelover
    January 24, 2013 - 08:30

    Can't wait to try your coffee! Don't pay any attention to the haters on here. They are just JEALOUS, hateful people who can't stand to see anybody get ahead in the world. They would never say these things to anyone's face but they are oh-so-tough behind their laptop! Congratulations on your venture!

  • James
    January 24, 2013 - 07:02

    Why are all these people posting negative comments about an entrepreneur in the middle of the day? Get back to work. Does Summerside really need a hotdog stand? Do we need 7 or 8 different pizza places? My only thing about the new business is that it will be close to the 15th drive-through in town.... This town is not booming and fast paced. Stop and smell the roses. Park your car. Take your time. You are not that busy. Goodluck. Support small business.

  • Judy
    January 23, 2013 - 20:54

    So happy for you guys! We had our business on PEI for 11 years, lots of hard work and devotation goes into running your own company! Great to see a small business adding value to the community that serves. It takes small steps like this to create change and improvement to beautiful Summerside! Congratulations and best wishes!

  • Cathy Arsenault
    January 23, 2013 - 20:43

    Congratulations and good luck on your new business......good coffee is a good thing!!!! I am newly retired to PEI and welcome a new spot to grab a good cup of coffee on the run.....see you soon.

  • jak
    January 23, 2013 - 20:40

    Congratulation and best wishes to the Kuhn's. I totally agree with taxpayers comment, it is hard to believe how jealousy can really bring the negative out in person.

  • jak
    January 23, 2013 - 20:24

    Congratulations and Best Wishes to the Kuhn's. I totally agree with taxpayers comment, it is hard to believe how jealousy can really bring the negative out in person.

  • you know now
    January 23, 2013 - 19:51

    By the comments not hard to tell which ones couldn't figure out what it is and are sour because they aren't as smart as they thought. Best of luck with the new coffee shop hope you take some people away from tims.

  • Jared
    January 23, 2013 - 18:30

    Case in point for how and why Summerside is like it is. Too many narrow minded thinkers. Anyone willing to take the risk opening a business, ESPECIALLY one that is offering something different than the typical processed junk that this town has to offer, should be encouraged. This place can be good for the town. What does Wal Mart do for Summerside? Consider what you put in your body more than saving a buck to buy your next pack of smokes or beer. You may realize you're worth it... Supposedly a new gym is opening too. Lets attack them for trying to help people get healthy!!! Leave your comments in the toilet.

  • Shirley
    January 23, 2013 - 16:54

    It's difficult to believe how mean and ignorant some people can be! Quite a disgrace, really, for a islander. We are fairly new on the island, and have found most people to be a blessing. Friendly, Courteous, and always willing to help! I am hoping that the new business owners meet many of those people....and not cross paths with the ignorant ones, which I hope are few and far between. Good luck with your business! I am not even a coffee drinker, but may stop by to order one of your fruit drinks!:)

  • Taxpayer
    January 23, 2013 - 16:25

    Quite a venture, I wish the both of you the best, as for the Rinky Dinky foolish talk and rest of the ignorant comments, get a life, this is not what the people of Summerside and PEI are all about. Foolish comments are from jealous idiots with nothing to do but blog, get a life. Again I wish your new business a great success.

  • GSCC
    January 23, 2013 - 15:55

    Good luck to our newest entrepreneurs. Summerside is a great community and we are proud that you have taken the risk to operate here. Anonymous Bloggers do not representing the majority of citizens. On behalf of the business community WELCOME.

  • Doom you say
    January 23, 2013 - 14:53

    It's an achievement on its' own to manage to buy a piece of property off a corporation the size of walmart to begin with. To be able to take a little used piece of asphalt wasteland, that at this time of year is usually covered with a brown snowpile, and turn it into a locally owned and operated business is an even greater achievement. Good luck with your new business.

  • Jack
    January 23, 2013 - 14:35

    Go back to the states and take you ugly little shack with you

  • Bob dole
    January 23, 2013 - 14:29

    How did they ever get a building permit for this ??? Or did they?

    • Cindy
      January 24, 2013 - 07:04

      A hotdog stand?! These people are trying to improve the town. Encourage it! Goodluck!

  • cws
    January 23, 2013 - 14:24

    A rinky dink name for a rinky dink business in a rinky dink building.

  • Hmmmm
    January 23, 2013 - 14:22

    You know the retail industry is in a sad state of decline when a major chain pulls out and is replaced by a dollar store only 1/4 of the size and when the opening of hot dog stands like this one make the news. Meanwhile shoppers from outlying communities just drive by Summerside and right to Charlottetown. Hey did anyone hear?.Herb put up a new smelt shack out on the harbour...lol

  • Mack me Laugh
    January 23, 2013 - 14:16

    Billy has all the answers- same Billy on here attacking the volunteer fire department a while back- all the best to you sir!

  • john h bernard
    January 23, 2013 - 12:05

    All the best to you and hope you do well, good to see a a small type of business that is locally owned and not a corporate one and all you negative comment people, you have some sad life always putting things and people down.

  • Carl
    January 23, 2013 - 11:36

    I love the idea of having fair trade coffee in a Walmart parking lot haha

  • BBM
    January 23, 2013 - 11:01

    Granville St. isn't the champs-elysees, if anything it might class up Granville St. check out 2859 Robie Street for a better definition of Rinky dink development.

  • Billy
    January 23, 2013 - 10:37

    No hotdog stands allowed to set up downtown but this is allowed uptown?? Are permits for this type of thing not controlled by the same council??

  • ed
    January 23, 2013 - 09:21

    I wish them luck but I have my doubts it will make it past a year !

  • Best of Luck
    January 23, 2013 - 08:28

    I had the pleasure of meeting this lady a year ago when she was having a Coffee Party. I wish her all the best !!!

  • wtf
    January 23, 2013 - 08:17

    How can city allow this rinky dink development to blight the commercial landscape of Granville St and other areas of town? Are there no standards that prevent unsightly shacks like this from being dropped anywhere ? What's next smelt shacks ? Why couldn't these people use some of numerous vacant commercial spaces around town. I hope this business fails and this shack is removed ASAP.

    • Wow
      January 23, 2013 - 11:44

      Wow your nice. The place is not harming anyone. I hope if you ever own a business that it FAILS to.

    • sourgrapesmuch
      January 23, 2013 - 11:50

      Wow....doesn't look like a shack to me, but what irks me as it should others is that you wish ill-will on a fellow Islander that is trying to make their way in the world of business or would you be ok with them claiming EI all winter. Perhaps the spaces downtown charge too much rent and it was easier/cheaper to construct their own building. Typical response from an Islander when someone is perhaps doing more than they are right now.....yep, let's tear them down and hope they close.

    • Grant
      January 24, 2013 - 07:11

      This post makes no sense. The only thing you accomplished was funny run on sentences. "Blight the commercial landscape?" That is Hilarious! Wouldn't want to turn someones eye from the Granville St. Diner or Christmas Discounts. You can keep getting your double double sugar milk drink and let others support the local business. Take your head out of the toilet.

  • Dev
    January 23, 2013 - 08:14

    People had to speculate what the building was because opening a coffee shop at the end of a wal-mart parking lot makes no sense.

    • GIVESOMESUPPORT
      January 23, 2013 - 11:42

      Come on folks, give these people some respect and wish them good luck in their venture. They are starting a small business here in Summerside. Starting a small business is hard enough. Their little building is far from "Rinky Dink" , and an "Eye Sore" it was built very well. Stop attacking people for doing good things in our community.

    • Feather
      February 01, 2013 - 07:43

      It makes alot of sense to me considering how busy WalMart always is. They would get the truckdrivers and RV owners who find Tim Hortons etc drive thrus impossible. Have you no vision.