Coffee shop renovation crew

Sustainability At Its Roots – The Start of a Specialty Coffee Business

Design for sustainable coffee business

Floor layout for SMALL TOWN COFFEE ROASTERS. Designed by Mary Vega

Sustainability is a term that has been getting a lot of attention since the 2008 worldwide economic recession. It is also used to describe ecological concerns with global warming. I came to the point of leaving the U.S. in 2012 due to the fact that my life was no longer sustainable. I sold my home, my business, and relieved myself of all my worldly possessions except a pickup truck with a slide in camper that headed overland to the southern continent. Yes, I had this idea that I would drive to Ecuador and resettle in a more gentle and socially conscious country.

As I traveled south through Mexico and then into Guatemala, I realized that I was leaving some precious things behind - my family, the North American roads, and toilet paper. Actually, I could deal with the toilet paper and the roads. However, family was something that I wanted to develop a real lasting connection with. My son Monte and his wife Alicia recently relocated to her hometown of Rutherfordton - where life is simpler and community living is more responsive. We talked about starting a coffee roasting and espresso bar in the historical downtown district. With everyone on board, I decided to go for it and move back to these gorgeous North Carolina foothills.

The 12 month overlanding trek was not in vain. I was able to drive through small villages and meet some of the nicest and most humble latin americans I've ever met. Many of these people know the true meaning of sustainability. Small retail stores in these villages not only house the commercial establishments, but are also homes for the families that run their businesses.

The practice of living-in and also working your own store in the same building has been, and continues to be practiced throughout the world except here in the U.S.

It use to be common practice, but as we grew financially independent, we left the practice of sustainable living in favor of mortgage debt, credit card usage, and acquiring more than we can sustain!

So this is where we start...

A small town with a proud heritage and well documented history. The building I purchased use to be a bus station with a small restaurant. In the 60's, the building had an upgrade with a side addition and became a mortgage lending bank until it closed its doors due to the recent recession. Now, I own it and I'm turning it into a sustainable dual purpose building. An apartment for me to live in the back, and most importantly, an espresso bar with a coffee roasting facility in the front. A lot to cram into a 1300 square foot building, yea?

Luckily, I have a creative family. My daughter Mary Vega, recently received her masters in Interior Design and Historical Preservation. She's been instrumental in not only looking at architectural historical preservation for this building, but also redesigning the interior space so that we can fulfill all zoning requirements. Thank you Mary for putting up with the many drawing changes I requested from you! Different drawings for different code enforcement authorities... However, after all is said and done,  we seem to have triggered excitement within the community.

We have finally received all pertinent permits and have gotten good local craftsmen like Ernie Sims to help with the renovation. There is still much to do to open the doors for SMALL TOWN COFFEE ROASTERS. We're getting there slowly and surely. When things get a little uncomfortable, we simply pause, recognize it, and let it go... continuing to find the joy and passion that is in our soul... knowing family and community are supporting our efforts to create this sustainable, energizing specialty coffee business in small town friendly Rutherford County, NC.

Posted in Renovations.


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