For the next installment of the celebrating one-year series, we spoke with Evan Bailey co-owner of Tree City Coffee and Pastry.
With the website URL “rootedinkent”, the coffee shop definitely has deep ties within the community. It opened in January 2012, in the height of the downtown redevelopment project and has become a go-to spot downtown.
Bailey said opening in the midst of all of the other new business push has been a help for the shop.
“I'm thankful to be part of a larger development project with support from the town, university and federal government,” Bailey said. “Kent has needed this type of re-development for a very long time. Ideally the new developments will both help draw people from outside the area and connect the town with the student population more effectively.
“I've heard tax revenues are up, although I don't know the figure off the top of my head. To some degree that's either a product of an increased spends by locals and students or people from outside Kent coming to shop and dine. It's probably a combination of both.”
And Bailey said that there’s more instore for Tree City than just coffee and pastries.
“Tree City will continue to develop what we feel are innovative menu offerings for the store, but we'll also move further into event and office catering, and continue to develop event based programming based around our fair trade, sustainable and organic wine menu.”
Take a look at what else he had to say:
Q) Why did you choose Kent to open the shop?
A) We chose Kent because we felt there was a need for a true community coffee house experience here. There are plenty of larger corporate coffee houses and a few smaller independent shops, but we saw a need for a concept positioned in the middle and a business model with a focus on freshly baked pastries, house made desserts, and direct trade and organic coffee and tea offerings.
I grew up in Kent and graduated from Kent State with my undergrad and master's degree from Kent State. My business partner Mike also attended Kent State and after college he opened Water Street Tavern and has lived here since. The URL is a nod to the fact we're locals and we care about our town and are invested, quite literally, in its redevelopment. One of the nice things about being a small business is we're nimble and can respond hyper-locally. Fro example, we can support many local events, charities, and scholarships in ways a larger business often can't.
Q) With so much development happening downtown, how do you stay competitive with all the other businesses?
A) To us, it's about finding our niche in the market and develop the Tree City Coffee experience. It's about finding the sweet spot and owning it. The Tree City experience is a mix of both tangible and intangible touchpoints, ranging from our products, the in-store environment, our service, and even to how we communicate externally.