Although it felt odd to have rushed all season to get the bus ready for opening day, and then decide to also rush the opening day itself, it was nice to be so close to showcasing my project to the public. I had spent the majority of the winter avoiding hang outs and ignoring event invites as I needed all the time available to complete the bus, and now that it was almost ready I began to stress less about the build and more about the business. At this point, other than a few friends here and there and the trades who helped out with the project, not many people had seen inside the bus, let alone knew what the plan for it was going to be, so I was feeling anxious about its public display. However, as I began to move the café equipment into place I realized my overall vision for the project seemed to somehow line up exactly with reality. Everything fit how I thought, it felt how I wished, and the aesthetic matched the months of day dreaming about the project perfectly! Moreover, throughout the build process I was continually giving myself a hard time for being behind schedule, yet now that it was complete I could really admire how much work I was able to get done in just five months while working full time at another job.
Overall the Soft Open was a huge success and I still believe was the best option to Showcase Double Decker Coffee Roasting before the season was finished. The event itself had a strong attendance which was a surprise given the overall lack of marketing I had put behind it. Over the two days I received amazing feedback about the bus, the conversion, the coffee, merchandise, and was happy to see how much support Whistler locals had for a new unique business. Although the event required several long nights of coffee roasting to build up enough back stock to sell, the real heroes of the weekend were my two buddies, Julian and Sarah who volunteered both days to sling coffee and snacks for me. By having these two work the café, I was free to chit chat with guests about the bus and coffee as well as observe how people moved and interacted in the space. Although I was very happy with how everything came together with the build, I was very anxious to see if the design and flow of the space worked for both the cafe and the public portions of the bus. Going into the weekend I had several concerns about the space and how multiple people in the bus would effect things. After all at this point I had not seen more than four people inside at a time and even that could feel tight with all the tools around. My primary concerns for the weekend were: How will the freshly painted floors hold up to ski boot traffic; how much of an issue will the staircase and landing be in regards to walkability; will there be a build up of people at the till waiting to pay or get coffee; and will the second floor get too hot in the sun for customers to enjoy the seating areas?
To my surprise most of the things I was worrying about ended up being total none issues. The floors did not wear poorly, though people were rough with there ski boots; it seemed people understood the stairwell was not for hanging out in, and naturally kept it clear; the dream team kept wait times for coffee to a minimum; and the temperature upstairs stayed reasonable throughout the weekend. Some interesting take aways from the weekend were: customers lack of interest in buying fresh roasted coffee by the pound; less interest in the onsite coffee roaster than anticipated; and how badly people wanted to see the bus open in the summer. Issues or inefficiencies that the weekend highlighted for me to address prior to next season were: Building a landing deck for the front door, and paint doorway with anti-slip grit paint; Remove side window in cafe and create serving window to outside of bus resulting in less stairwell traffic; adding a beverage dumbwaiter to the second floor to get customers in their seats quicker; better signage about "on site coffee roasting"; and setting up an inside/outside speaker situation to create a more cohesive hangout atmosphere with music.
After the success of the Soft Open, I had an odd change in energy levels, and all the sudden the drive that had kept me pushing through the evenings building the bus completely dried up. It seemed that with the public showing behind me, and knowing I had the coming fall to continue construction on the bus, the few weeks I had before heading back up north for another wildfire season would be better utilized locking down plans, courses, and generally educating myself as much about the coffee industry as possible. I had finally got past the stress of not completing the bus and now began to focus my stress on the future of the business. I mean all I had done is finished the portion of the project I had experience with, building stuff that is, but there was still a whole other component waiting for me. I had physically built Double Decker Coffee Roasting, now all I needed to do was learn how to run a business...
Patrick Sills is the owner and creator of Double Decker Coffee Roasting. The purpose of the Build Blog is to share the story of the physical build, its components, Patrick's growing education in the coffee industry, and the overall creation of the business. Warning: if run on sentences, poor sentence structure, or simple spelling mistakes bother you to the core stop reading! The Build Blog has a very loose format, I am a builder not a writer, just thought some people might be interested in the story. Enjoy!