Hey everybody! Today we are feeling kind of groovy, so we landed in Salem, OR to chat with Molly Wilkes, the owner of Toadally Joe Coffee. It is a colorful spot that has won the heart of their community not only because of their great coffee, but also their delicious treats. Here she is, to tell us a little bit of her story:
V. Can you tell us how this whole adventure started?
W. I used to serve tables at Olive Garden before this. I have been in fine dining for most of my adult life, but this is my first time as a business owner.
My grandmother is a baker and baking is something that has been a part of my family history; so, everything started years ago when I offered her to open up our own place. I always thought that it would be great to not just have baked goodies, but to also have a coffee shop to go with it. And I always wanted a drive through and a cute clean little building. It just happened that I came upon a location and my dream just sort of took off from there.
V. What is your style as far as the product and the image you present to your community?
W. I carefully choose the coffee that I carry. I interviewed local roasters and ended up deciding on what I thought was the best choice, which is Pacifica Coffee. It is all organic, so all coffee and espresso that we serve here is organic and fair trade. I really wanted it to be my thing because it matches what my grandma’s cookies are about– all organic.
For everything that I try to do, for the most part, I try to stick with a local company. I also have a wall space available for local artists who are welcome to hang their art at no charge. I like to support other people’s entrepreneurship as much as I can with the space that I have. We also hold fundraisers here to help local communities as much as we can. I like to help out in any way that I can.
V. How has your experience with coffee been so far?
W. I have been self-trained, but I feel like I have become a pretty good barista. I can’t decorate a latte yet or do something super fancy, but taste is everything and our coffee is amazing. I feel like I am doing a pretty good job and I also have a super fun menu that I have created myself. We do something that we call our Toadally Favorites, and there are 33 items on our menu at the time. All of our drinks can be served in any way you like – hot, cold, blended, etc., and we do not charge a different price for it.
V. What kind of customers does Toadally cater to?
W. We have a variety of people. Our mascot is a horned toad in a tie-dyed shirt with some glasses. I thought that my mascot and the tie-dye sign would attract mostly younger crowd, but we do have older groups of people that like to come in and have tea. We do everything – iced tea, hot tea, green tea, macha tea. We have the best chai in town and we have a lot of people coming here for my chai. I think our customers really like the coffee and espresso that we carry and the fun menu. They can also create anything they want here with all the high quality ingredients that we have.
V. How is the business been going so far?
W. Economy could be better, but it seems like it is picking up. When I started here, I was making a quarter of what I am making now. This was a simple coffee house before, they weren’t doing well and they went under. Once we took over we made many changes. I included the term café in our name because we serve food now, which is another thing that brings more people in the door. We serve breakfast in the morning and lunch with amazing salads and fresh organic sandwiches. Not long ago I started making a salmon burger, which is picking up in popularity. As far as promoting, I am kind of old-fashioned and Facebook is something that I am still trying to figure out.
We also do something for the kids. If you are under 12 years old, you can pick anything you want off the drink menu for $1.50 with the purchase of the adult beverage, of course with the child being present.
V. What advice could you give to future business owners?
W. Be patient when you start a business because it takes time to be discovered. Never give up and put a lot of thought into the products that you carry. Price isn’t everything. It makes a big difference to your guests if you carry the highest quality of ingredients that sets you apart from your competition. I have made sure to be very accommodating to my guests. When people come through the door and ask for something that I don’t have, I try to incorporate it; so that way the next time they come back it will be here.
[iconbox title=”Toadally Joe Cafe” icon=”adress_book.png”]
1120 Royvonne Ave SE
Salem, OR 97302