Continuing the Daily Grind
Conrad Poe’s New Year’s resolution?
Last week, Poe and wife Jody, owners of Boone-based Conrad’s Coffee Company, announced that their anchor shop on Shadowline Drive would close.
The idea was to focus on expanding Conrad’s wholesale presence by closing the store and opening a standalone roastery, a plan that wasn’t well met by the shop’s pantheon of fans.
While a franchise location on N.C. 105 would have remained – and will remain – open, the Shoppes at Shadowline location serves as both a coffee hub and gathering place.
“There was just so much customer outcry,” Jody Poe said. “And at the last minute, our landlord made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. Between those two things, Conrad and I went home New Year’s Eve, and just talked about it. We decided we’re just going to stay open, so that’s where it falls.”
It’s a decision that feels right to Conrad Poe.
“It all just changed,” he said. “It was touching. I thought it would be smoother, because we have a lot of outlets (in the High Country), but it would never be the same.”
It still won’t be the same, but for good reason. The shop will be outfitted with additional roasting equipment to accommodate Conrad’s wholesale business, meaning the seating area will lose about nine seats.
It may make things a little more crowded, but that’s nothing new for the Poes.
In Conrad’s 11 years at Shoppes at Shadowline, he and Jody have met more people than they can count, people whose families they now know, just through daily conversations with customers, many of them devout regulars.
But regulars are cropping up not only in the High Country, but also out of state and overseas. Since opening his business in 2000, Conrad has worked as a consultant for fledgling coffee shops, most of which now carry Conrad’s Coffee in locales as diverse as Russia and Alaska and as nearby as Banner Elk and Lenoir.
Monday, Jan. 2, would have marked the first day without Conrad’s at Shadowline, but come 7 a.m., the lights were on, the door was open, and that unmistakable aroma wafted throughout.
“I told Conrad, ‘Let’s just open on Monday, turn on the sign, and people are going to come by – it’s their habit,’” Jody said. “And sure enough, we had people coming in, doing just that.”
After all, people are serious about their coffee. Conrad is one of them.
“We try to – actually, we don’t try, we do – get the top 1 percent,” he said. “That’s key.”
Although he uses a New York-based broker to acquire his beans, Conrad finds them firsthand through his globetrotting travels as an executive security professional. In fact, Conrad’s Coffee started out as a workplace souvenir. He would bring home coffee the world over and give it to coworkers, who started requesting “Conrad’s Coffee.”
“He recognized that not only could he fill a niche in Boone, but he could also make a real difference in the lives of coffee farmers in developing nations by buying raw beans directly from them,” Jody said.
To the Poes, it’s a win-win – customers get some of the world’s finest coffees, and hardworking farmers get the compensation they’re due.
And now, Conrad’s customers can continue to get the coffee they love.
Conrad’s Coffee Company is located at 240 Shadowline Drive in Boone. For more information, call (828) 265-0079 or visit http://www.conradscoffee.com.
Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at (email@example.com) or call (828) 264-6397.