Cafés as Venues: Part Four

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This post is part of a series examining how café owners can expand their business by hosting events. (Photo above: Laura Zastrow Photography.)

Different Events, Common Themes

[T]urning your café into an event venue can be a savvy way to increase revenue for your business, but it’s important to consider how events will mesh with your existing setup. While each café handles venue management in different ways, training staff to handle business on both the coffee and event sides is crucial.

Broadway’s Glaze says, “We’ve had baristas come from other shops, and the complexity is a lot higher here.” In addition to regular behind-the-bar protocol, hosting meetings, concerts, and other events requires communicating event expectations to staff. Cafés like Broadway hold regular staff meetings to go over upcoming events in detail.

As events are added to your calendar, it can be challenging to find the balance between serving café customers and event guests. At the Camp House, Busby notes a rising appreciation for “excellent coffee in different contexts,” but still says that some concert-goers don’t understand why their coffee prices are higher than a gas station’s, which is partly why they added beer to their menu. But doubling as a venue pays off—events can account for up to 50 percent of their revenue, and compared to an average day in the coffee shop, nighttime events often generate an additional 30 percent of income.

Finally, hospitality is key, as an event may be the first time someone encounters the café. It’s an opportunity to convert them from one-time visitor to regular patron. Cup 22’s Ledaja-Long says, “it gets known that this is a place where you’re treated well.” The reverse is possible as well. At Atmalogy, events have grown organically, as people find the café first, then realize they can host an event there, Riney says.

If you want an opportunity to expand the reach of your shop, hosting events could be the answer. “If you’re a café looking for new ways to engage your community, and to be valuable to the community, hosting events definitely does that,” says Busby.

Kaitlin Throgmorton is a freelance writer based in North Carolina.

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