This week, we asked Saline Patch readers to tell us their favorite spot for lunch. There were 129 votes cast, and Brewed Awakenings finished in the top spot with more than 35 percent of the vote. Dan's Downtown Tavern was second with 13 percent of the vote. Mi Zarape finished third with nine percent of the vote.
This week, we talked to Brewed Awakenings owner Kim Kaster about her first year in business. Saturday, Kaster is celebrating Brewed Awakenings' first anniversary. (Check this calendar event on Patch for a full run down of the activities.)
Here is our conversation with Kaster.
Patch: So, what do you think after a year in business?
Kim Kaster: I am truly amazed at how well we have done this year. We are actually finishing in the black. Not a lot, but a little bit. I didn't expect to finish in the black in the first year
Patch: What were your expectations and why do you think you've beat those expectations?
Kaster: I am a money person and a numbers person. I had estimated how many people would come in each day and how much they would spend per person. I based my numbers on what I saw at the previous coffee shop I had worked at in the area. We've beaten all those numbers by quite a bit from day one. There has not been a day we didn't beat expectations.
Patch: Why is that?
Kaster: I think it's partly location. I also think it has a lot to do with community. This community has really supported me. Some of it, too, is that I have a great staff. They bring people back every day. I have a barista (Erica Smallwood) that everybody loves. She decorates the beverages with little foam decorations and if anyone comes in and wants a drink we don't have, she knows how to make it.
Patch: Downtown Saline has several coffee shops and it's very walkable with shops nearby. What's the plus to this location?
Kaster: There is a lot of traffic and we have easy in-and-out access and lots of parking. The other factor is that the other businesses in here send us a lot of customers. We couldn't do it without them. This entire shopping center has been really supportive.
Patch: What's been the biggest surprise in your first year as owner?
Kaster: I think the biggest surprise is the way the baked goods have taken off.
Patch: Do you have a signature item?
Kaster: Our scones. We make them fresh every day. People come from everywhere to come and get them. We've had people from Britain visiting the area who've commented about how much they loved our scones. They are different than the scones overseas. They are soft and not crumbly.
Patch: Did you know going in that scones was going to be the winner?
Kaster: I didn't. I knew they'd be popular. I wanted something that nobody else around here offered and I knew that making everything from scratch would make us unique. But I did not know they would take off like they did.
Patch: Brewed Awakenings has hosted local bands, previews by the Saline Area Players, Open Mic nights ...
Kaster: We're trying to support the local arts and give people a place to show their work. We've offered some of the students discounts to come in and play during open mic nights. We have their photography on the walls. We're working with teachers to have some of the Saline High School photography students come in and showcase their work.
Patch: How are you celebrating your anniversary Saturday?
Kaster: All day long we have have raffles going on for prizes, including free coffee for a month and baked goods. We'll be sampling our menu items all throughout the day. We'll have games. We'll be decorated with balloons. At 2 p.m., someone is brining in a very cool looking cake. Mayor (Gretchen) Driskell, the Pittsfield Township Supervisor (Mandy Grewal), Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden, and officials from the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce are coming. A lot of my employees are former employees are going to be here. I'd like to get a picture to celebrate the great year we've had. At night, we'll have a band called Bad Television, a young group from the high school. They actually played at our grand opening. So we're coming full circle.
Patch: With a year in the books, what is your outlook for the future?
Kaster: You know, it's still going to be a whole lot of hard work. I don't want to sit back and say that, "Well, we've been successful, and that it will just keep going." But I do have a very positive outlook. We haven't slowed down. We still have high momentum. I had figured that after the first two or three months, the momentum would slow down, but it hasn't. Every day we get more and more new customers.
Brewed Awakenings is located in the plaza at Michigan Avenue and State Street. For more information, visit the website. You can also find out more on the Brewed Awakenings Facebook page, or by following the business on Twitter.