Wiggin Street Coffee Brews Up Promising Future
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
In Josh Radnor’s time, it was known as the KC. The class of 2012 knew it only as MiddleGround. The building’s new occupants considered River Road Coffeehouse, Chase’s Coffeehouse and Philander’s Coffeehouse. But in the end, Mark and Dave Forman of One Line Coffee chose a reference to the location, not the College: Wiggin Street Coffee. Here, we bring you a conversation with Mark Forman, founder of the father-son brand out of Granville, Ohio, and the story of how Wiggin Street Coffee came to be.
The First Coffeehouse
“My son and I are partners, and we started out 10 years ago. … I loved making coffee, so everywhere I would travel, I would always search out, ‘What are the local independent coffeehouses?’
“We had a chance in Granville [to buy] a place that had been frequented by a couple of different coffee places in an old house. And ... my very favorite coffee place of all time was in an old house. … It [was] just like, okay, this is everything I want a coffee house to be. Good coffee, roasted by a local company, in an old house. What could be better than this? …
“I always had in the back of my mind, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun to do something like that?’ So my son and I had a chance to take on an old house in Granville that had been a coffee place … and we kind of did this together. I was still working full time, and we were just having fun with it.
The Second Coffeehouse
“Then [our Granville coffeehouse] kind of grew, and after four years, [Dave] really wanted to get a second coffeehouse because we had been so successful with the first, so kind of spur of the moment, we decided we would do one in Newark, [Ohio]. It’s very different from the old house in Granville. It’s … [a] shopping center strip, brick-and-blast building that was a bank at one time. ...We did that about six years ago. It took a little bit longer because it’s more of an expensive location, but it too now has become fairly successful and kind of its own place.”
“About three-and-a-half years ago, [we got] a small roaster, … put it in a corner in the Granville house and [said, let’s] see how it goes. Well, a year later, we loved it, … so [Dave] decided to buy a big roaster, open a little bit of a production facility [in] nearby Heath, and start roasting all of the coffee for that store and for the Newark store. And that was where it was all supposed to end. We’ve got a nice roasting store and two coffeehouses. We’re all happy.”
The Showcase Roaster Store
“Dave ... wanted to ... take the One Line brand and do what … are called showcase roaster stores. They usually do some roasting there, … have some kind of a coffee bar [that’s] very nice with state-of-the-art equipment [and] little to no food. … So I agreed to this in a weaker moment, and we designed a store in the Short North [neighborhood in Columbus] that opened on July 18 [of this year] called One Line Coffee. It’s great.”
Deciding to Buy MiddleGround
“A year ago, Margaret and Bill Gunderson, the couple that own the VI here, approached us and said, ‘Two places is a lot for us. We’ve heard a lot about your coffee in Granville. How would you feel about considering coming and doing the coffeehouse in Gambier?’ Well, we came up and toured it, and we said, ‘With all due honesty, this is really as much of a restaurant as it is a coffeehouse. ... We don’t know food. ... It just wouldn’t be a good fit for us.’
“So we kind of left it at that. Then they called us back, and they said ... ‘If we decided to do lunch at the VI, would you consider having just a coffeehouse?’ We thought about that, we talked about it, we knew there was a risk. … If there’s any group of people that have as hard of a time dealing with change as older people, it’s younger people. So [with] the traditions of food and sweet potato fries and paninis on a campus with not many food options, there is a risk of just a coffeehouse coming here.
“Part of our consideration was that … even though it took a few years for the Denison students to find us, [we now have a following in Granville]. … Perhaps Kenyon students are not that dissimilar from Denison students, and that the attraction of first-class coffee, locally roasted from small farms … bundled teas, a few sandwiches, pastries to go with coffee [and] a good espresso bar, maybe, over time, they would forgive us for not having all of the deep selections they’ve been used to.”
Dealing with Feedback
“We’ve had a few [people come in and say,] ‘Oh, I thought there’d be more food for breakfast,’ but I would say most of the reactions have been positive, pleased … that we have some [food]. … We try to do things that are really good and reasonably priced to go with [them]. … [We’ve had] pretty good feedback and positive comments about the color we chose here.
“We kept the booths. ... I don’t think I would have put the booths in if I had started from scratch, but it was a no-brainer to keep them. And some people [have said], ‘I actually would have been very unhappy if the booths were removed.’ They’ve kind of grown on me.”
Values and Hopes for the Future
“We continue to use our resources at One Line Coffee and get those married into the Wiggin Street Store. … The best coffee, sourced from the best small farms, and getting students interested in hearing the stories and appreciating the hard work of the small farm and what the laborers do and that what they do really matters when it comes to the taste of the coffee. … Our thing is, we hope that you like our coffee, and you can, at some level, appreciate that it had a roaster. People had to work hard to serve … but beyond that, it’s get out of the way, let’s make sure people know where this product came from. And that’s why we have our coffee pouches for sale in our front area.