Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Harrison J. Graden
2 Schae’ Café
275 Union Blvd
St Louis MO 63108
Interview with Don Schaefer, Owner
The space of 2 Schae’ Café is well appropriate for what they have to offer at their location.
It is a very comfortable setting in which to sit and relax. Their web site states:
“2Schae Café is the perfect neighborhood hangout where everyone knows your name or soon will. Come to people watch, meet with friends, or get to know your neighbors better and, of course, enjoy a latte and any number of our delicious menu items. Owned and operated by Lisa and Don Schaefer, 2Schae Café opened its doors on September 17th, 2008.”
I met with Don and a Friday afternoon upon his request. He is a very busy man and was taking a moment to speak with me. I explained to him my class project and my experience in the food service industry and what I was in school to do. I guess he felt comfortable with me as he went ahead with the interview. It was a fairly chilly day and over cast so no one was really using the patio they had set up to hold 20 people. But business was popping and we did not waste any time before getting to the interview. I had prepared for the interview and did back ground with the thought of this being a coffee house.
When asked Don said he ran 2 Schae Café with his wife Lisa and that they had 6 employees counting he and his wife. While I was waiting on Don to sit down with me, I heard him talking to a customer and one of his employees and the art decorating 2 Schae Café was supplied by her. The place had a feeling of familiarity and being home. I was to discover in my interview that Don and Lisa lived in the neighborhood and this was how they chose their location.
For the last 500 years people have been opening coffee houses or cafes in their neighborhoods beginning with,
“The Ottoman chronicler İbrahim Peçevi reports the opening of the first coffeehouse in Istanbul:
Until the year 962 , in the High, God-Guarded city of Constantinople, as well as in Ottoman lands generally, coffee and coffee-houses did not exist. About that year, a fellow called Hakam from Aleppo and a wag called Shams from Damascus came to the city; they each opened a large shop in the district called Tahtakale, and began to purvey coffee.”
So Don and Lisa have entered a very old profession where people have gathered to discuss life, politics, and work. Don was fairly proud of his business and his biggest wish he stated several time as we spoke was that he would like to be known as a fair man and treated people right. He lives by Christian principles and it is evident as I have observed his dealings with his customers. Even ones who have moved from the neighborhood are treated like old friends when they come to visit. One came in prior to our interview that had not been in 2 Schae Café since they remodeled and enlarged their dining area to hold 40 people. Don and Lisa are part of the neighborhood and it is evident in the support they receive from the neighborhood. He felt that the best advertising one could get is word of mouth and providing great service.
For centuries coffee houses or cafes have been places to gather as I stated prior and this is documented, “The 17th Century French traveler Jean Chardin gave a lively description of the Persian coffeehouse scene:
People engage in conversation, for it is there that news is communicated and where those interested in politics criticize the government in all freedom and without being fearful, since the government does not heed what the people say. Innocent games... resembling checkers, hopscotch, and chess, are played. In addition, mollas, dervishes, and poets take turns telling stories in verse or in prose. The narrations by the mollas and the dervishes are moral lessons, like our sermons, but it is not considered scandalous not to pay attention to them. No one is forced to give up his game or his conversation because of it. A molla will stand up in the middle, or at one end of the qahveh-khaneh, and begin to preach in a loud voice, or a dervish enters all of a sudden, and chastises the assembled on the vanity of the world and its material goods. It often happens that two or three people talk at the same time, one on one side, the other on the opposite, and sometimes one will be a preacher and the other a storyteller.”
In today’s modern coffee houses or cafes we still find it a place to exchange ideas and discuss life. With today’s coffee houses or cafes doing this in this manner,
“One of the original uses of the cafe, as a place for information exchange and communication, was reintroduced in the 1990s with the Internet café or Hotspot (Wi-Fi). The spread of modern style cafes to many places, urban and rural, went hand in hand with computers. Computers and Internet access in a contemporary-styled venue helps to create a youthful, modern, outward-looking place, compared to the traditional pubs or old-fashioned diners that they replaced.”
2 Schae Café is no different, they offer WIFI and have a web site and when asked Don said social media had no effect on his business but I did ask him about their Facebook page and he did say that they advertised weekly specials and Wednesday night pizzas there as well as daily soups and benefits taking place in the café.
In choosing the vehicle of coffee as a beverage to be serve primarily in his business he has tapped into a multi-million dollar industry. According to Coffee-statistic.com,
“Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day, or equivalent to 146,000,000,000 (146 Billion) cups of coffee per year; making the United States the LEADING CONSUMER of coffee in the world.”
The menu at 2 Shae Café is varied and they are known for the sandwiches, soups, and gourmet omelets. Don does not have a lot of family time in running a restaurant but does work with his wife and said his father makes their soups. He also added their kids were grown and they had an empty nest. His fairly diverse menu was inspired by family recipes and the Food Network. He said they set their prices by the market, inventory cost, and labor, which is pretty much as most restaurants set their prices. With his favorites from the menu being “Create your own omelet” and “2 Schae Café Toast” and his least was the Mediterranean Pizza as he dislikes pesto.
His training was not in the food service business but in the business world as manager of a staffing company for 19 years and 6 in running his own company placing and retraining convicted felons to enter the work force on their parole. This was inspired by a friend who had been to prison. He is very happy with his current location and with his business and is not considering any other ventures. Though they would consider a second location in another state where the climate was warmer! There was no doubt in his answer when asked if he would do it again, there was a resounding YES!
With their diverse menu, I did ask where they did their shopping and who their purveyors were. He answered US Foods, Restaurant Depot, Sam’s, Schnuck’s, Aldi’s, and MO Bakery. He said their product was fresh and all made in house with scratch cooking and nutrition was taken into consideration when determining their menu with no high fructose syrups being used.
He stated his only limitation at 2 Schae Café was storage, storage for Dry Good, storage for Frozen Foods, and storage for Refrigerated. With only seating for 40 could not handle large groups and with limited prep space, they could not cater larger groups as well. There catering is limited to groups of 12-15 coming into the store for meetings or social gatherings such as a open house for a graduation party. Off site catering consist of small office parties or family gatherings in the community near the café. He feels there is no real competition in the neighborhood other than Subway. He and Lisa are inspired by their faith in God and the desire to treat people right and to be a good and fair business owner setting an example on a daily basis. He hopes that he would not be considered average and it was apparent by the greetings he received from his customers he was well loved!
We finished up as things were getting busier and his wife and the one other employee there were being overwhelmed. Before I left after I finished my glass of iced tea and Lemon Bundt cake, I asked him when the prime times were. He said normally Wednesday, Thursday, and weekends are the busiest.
I definantly love the concept of 2 Schae Café, it is appealing to me that I could work so closely with my clientele and am not limited by what I serve. Coffee Shops or Cafes are worldwide and coffee is a beverage desired by a devoted group of people who consume, “over 400 million cups of coffee a day.” Then you have to account for the fact that, “Coffee shops make up the FASTEST GROWING part of the restaurant business, checking in with a 7% annual growth rate!” This is amazing and if you are a savvy business person and open in the right neighborhood and do not pay too much for rent and keeping in mind, “Café Bars average sales of 230 cups a day.” This could mean for a fairly brisk business and with good service and great food your per ticket average would go up. In my neighborhood which is less than a mile from 2 Schae Café, there are at least five café or coffee houses with a variety of menu’s over all I count places that are 3 miles or so from my apartment.
The following web sites were used for my paper:
April 19, 2011
Dear Don and Lisa Schaefer,
Thank you for the time you took to complete my interview for my Hospitality Class at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park/Hospitality Program. This paper was a major part of my class and the time you spent with me was enlightening and made me hope to be as good and upstanding a business person as the example you are setting. It is apparent that your customers and staff love you and 2 Schae Café. Your food has always been very good and the service I have received in 2 Schae Café has always been top notch!
If there is anything I could do to assist you please feel free to call me.
H.J. “Skip” Graden Sr.
316 Laurel St 2K
St. Louis MO 63112