Coffee shop brewing for Granville Street

Colin MacLean colin.maclean@tc.tc
Published on January 23, 2013

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

Carlene Kuhn and her husband Tim are opening a specialty coffee shop off Granville Street in Summerside. Jo Mamma’s is set to open Feb. 1. PHOTO BY COLIN MACLEAN/JOURNAL PIONEER