Business

Espresso stand the answer to a prayer

After working more than 20 years in car sales in Seattle, Port Orchard’s Mitchell Skreen literally walked off the job.

He did it without a job offer somewhere.

The one thing he did know is that he wanted to be close to home.

“I literally walked off the job and prayed a lot about (my future),” Skreen said.

Skreen quickly narrowed his future down to two careers.

“I was either going to sell cars near home or I was going to open a coffee shop,” Skreen said.

Skreen chose the latter and he doesn’t regret the decision.

Four months ago Skreen opened Mitchell’s Espresso, which is located at one of the two freestanding buildings in the Fred Meyer shopping complex.

While the difference between selling cars and coffee is night and day, Skreen’s love of people and coffee makes it easy to compare the two interests.

Skreen said he did as much research as possible to familiarize himself with the business of selling coffee.

One of his first goals was to offer customers something different than the dozens of other coffee shops in the area.

“I wanted to find a roaster unlike that of anybody else,” Skreen said. “Most coffee is blended together and then roasted, but I offer Italian roasted coffee,which is roasted separately before being blended.”

Skreen gets his coffee from Caffe D’arte of Seattle, which is the “last of the true Italian roasted coffee.”

Skreen said he’s been complemented by many customers about the taste of his coffee, especially from Italians who live in the area.

“It’s a very strong coffee and it doesn’t get lost in the milk,” he said. “Customers from Italy love my shop because it tastes like home to them.”

Other popular drinks are ice-cream based drinks called Screamies and Raptures, which Skreen said are guaranteed to tickle the tongue.

Skreen said another reason he decided on opening a coffee shop was the ability to mingle with customers in his own backyard.

In order to accomplish this dream, he knew he needed to entice customers to not only buy coffee but to stay a while as well.

“The store’s niche is that people are able to come in and relax,” he said. “I love going into work and holding a conversation with customers. We can sit down and talk and gossip and have a good time.”

Through all the research, Skreen said the biggest surprise was the size of the lot he was inquiring about.

He thought he was renting a small quaint spot, but instead the property developer informed him the lot Skreen was interested in was 900 square feet with a drive thru window.

“I didn’t know that spot was available,” he said. “I thought it was one of the other spots. It all just came together.”

Despite all the research, Skreen said he understood he needed to hire employees who are experienced in the restaurant business.

“I needed to do that in order to make it work,” he said.

Despite being just 100 yards from a competitor, Skreen said he’s already developed a positive relationship with the owner of the other espresso shop.

“Coffee is a hot commodity,” he said. “We both agreed there’s plenty of business for everybody.”

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