Kevin Porter recently opened up a coffee shop in Chicago with his wife Chelsea, named De•li•cious Café.
I was stoked and intrigued when I heard about this venture, as it is a departure from the predictable bike shop that you would expect a pro rider to open. Hence, I asked KP some questions about it.
Click below to check it out.
Thanks to David Leep for the pics.
Kevin, How are things?
Hello, things are good! I have been very busy getting things together this past couple of weeks. It’s nice because it is starting to settle down around here.
Tell us about the coffee shop, how did that come about?
Well, the coffee shop was something I have been planning for a really long time. It’s been almost 8 or 9 years, ever since I first picked up a coffee drink. I didn’t go to college and I knew at a very young age that I would have to find a solid endeavor to fortify my future. After meeting my wife, the coffee shop dream starting to turn towards reality.
What did you name the shop?
We named the shop De•li•cious café, it’s nice because people will often say “that’s delicious” and not realize that they are pushing our brand name. haha just joking!
Was it difficult to get off the ground? You partenered up with your wife correct?
I did partner up with my wife. Because the two of us work very well together, we operated a coffee shop called Half & Half for almost two years. Getting started was very difficult. Since we are in a recession, the bank is not very interested in lending money. The percentage you have to put down is far too expensive. They asked us for 30% down and real estate.
Between establishing your business model and opening the shop, what were some of the things you had to deal with?
We first discovered the shop in North Center Chicago, it was a coffee shop for sale named Stubbs coffee house. It was for sale on Craigslist believe it or not. It was a turn key and we purchased the corp, and all the stock it had. After preparing ourselves to write a business plan for over a year. The time came and we got it done in less then 4 weeks. It wasn’t super hard because we had been going over the plan in our heads over and over again for that whole year. Once again, since the bank wasn’t super helpful, our plan was modified for the financial situation we came up with involving the previous owner. After getting the kinks worked out of that, we ran into plenty of delays concerning each other’s lawyers. We went back and forth a few weeks and final settled in February.
How about sourcing coffee beans and such? Were you picky about them being organic, fair trade etc….
Well, that was the fun part. Back 8 months ago I met a friend that works at Chicago’s largest coffee roaster, intelligentsia coffee. After going to the warehouse and learning all about them, it was set in stone that I would be handling only their coffee. They remind me of a BMX company. They are all really down to earth and have a fun vibe! They are growing faster and faster. They have a place here in Chicago, LA, and in New York. They are all about quality; they strive to have the most perfect cup in every shop. Their beans are beans from some of the most exclusive farms from around the world. One of the owners travels far and wide to farms around the world. I think they said he travels 300 and some odd days a year. Which is my style for sure. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to coffee and Intelligentsia.
I’m sure you wanted to set up shop fairly close to “home”, but was location hard to nail down?
The shop we found is about 2 miles from our apartment. We are planning to move much closer though. Ideally, we would like to move walking distance to De•li•cious. The new spot is so close to the North side skatepark I ride at a lot. I can’t wait to only have to pedal a few blocks instead of a few miles…
I’m sure you have been to your fair share of coffee spots, did that help you get hooked on the idea?
Yes, that is what built my dream. In and out of vegan and coffee shops around the world. Learning the ins and outs of shops in Europe was probably the most inspiring. Friends would often think I was crazy for wanting to eat and drink coffee every trip each and every day. But that is the same as going to every street spot you see. I tried to remember something special from each and every shop I would stop into.
If you had to pick 5 of your favorite coffee spots anywhere, who would you pick?
Cafe Mundi in Austin Texas around the block from T1, a café in Seattle real close to the Jimi Hendrix statue (they have world professional baristas in house everyday, its like being served a tabletop by Chris suffer himself), A shop in Verona Italy, there was a really sweet café in AZ somewhere that I can’t put my figure on (I remember Walter and Joel wanted to kill me for fading off the empire trip for it), And last but not least the Intelligentsia store in the loop of Chicago the espresso is made by world championship baristas. For Real!
How involved are you in the day to day operation of the shop?
Right now since we just opened, I work as much as I can. I want to fine-tune our flow and get all the kinks worked out of ordering and our system. Once summer hits, I’ll work till 1 everyday and ride till night. I am working it out so that I can leave for short trips once a month. No more then 10 days at a time. It’s a perfect job for a rider.
Will you still be able to ride a lot, and go on trips? How do you think this will effect you as a pro rider?
Not at all, it’s something I want in my life. I have been riding for 15 years, 10 of which I have been riding at a professional level. My passion for riding and traveling is still just as strong as ever. Like I said, I am figuring my work times out to be able to make smaller trips. I don’t like to be away from Chelsea and the dogs for more than two weeks at a time, so I end up having a lot of time on my hands. The coffee shop is like the prefect balance. It also helps me from riding to much and burning myself out.
Why did you decide on a coffee shop versus a bike shop?
Well, I would love to run a bike shop. It just seems like it would be a struggle to keep business going. I just feel like making a successful bike shop means you have to go to the Internet. I have been such a close friend of Tina and Tom at Empire that I couldn’t imagine going into a business that would compete with them. I also want to be able to spend my day with Chelsea and my family. So having a business that allows us to be around each other all day is more my style.
Where can people find you guys?
We have a very active web site, www.deliciouscafechicago.com that I plan to drive BMX traffic to. Right now it is more for info on the shop, but I am planning to make it an online café for riders, something that allows people in the BMX world to feel like they are at the shop all the way in Japan for example. If you are in Chicago, we are located in North Center, on Lincoln ave. 3827 N.
Thanks! Anything you would like to add before we wrap this up?
Thanks to you Defgrip! It means a lot to us at De•li•cious Café for your interest in our shop. We would like to thank our families. They helped us out more than I could ever imagine, most importantly my mother, my father, and our aunt and uncle Wanoreck. We would like to thank Andy from teamcrossroadsbmx.com for helping us with the website. We would like thank Pam for being such a helpful lawyer. To all the people that made it possible for us to start De•li•cious and to the world of BMX for there interest in the shop. We hope that everyone that stops into Chicago will come by to explore the shop. I look forward to seeing you all very soon!