SIX NATIONS – Catherine Powless bought Java Joe’s Coffee Shop last year in October and has loved every minute of running the business since. “I bought it because I knew I could handle it,” said Catherine. “I’m smart enough to run it and I know how to cook.”
Java Joe’s was established 13 years ago and is found in the atrium of the Grand River Employment and Training Centre (GREAT) in Ohsweken.
It has always been known as a place where customers can go to grab a quick breakfast or lunch if someone forgot to pack one in the morning.
Catherine is doing her best to combine some of the things that worked at the old Java Joe’s with her new spin on things. Her latest spin — more homemade meals. “We’re a coffee shop so of course coffee is our specialty,” she said. “We focus on grab-and-go meals and everything is packaged to be takeout, or eaten here in the GREAT building.
Since I bought the business I’ve been placing a big focus on home-cooked meals.” Monday and Friday each have their own special meal cooked for the day. On Monday Catherine serves corn soup and scone. On Friday she serves tomato soup and grilled chees sandwiches. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are surprises. “I really listen to my customers.
If customers suggest something to me enough times then I really take it to heart,” said Catherine. “It’s always my recipes, but it’s also almost always my customers’ ideas.” Aside from coffee and daily home-cooked specials Java Joe’s also sells sandwiches, chips, pop, drinks, coffee, tea, snacks and more all at reasonable prices.
Catherine had worked in customer service for years before taking ownership of the coffee shop and has recently taken a small business manager course, so she is more than capable of looking after customers’ coffee shop needs.
“I love face-to-face interactions with customers,” she said. “I live for customer feedback — good or bad — and I take every suggestion or criticism seriously and I do my best to make sure the customers are happy.” Catherine said that the business was slightly effected when Tim Horton’s opened up its doors on the territory, but as long as she strived to meet her customers needs she knew business would pick up again. And it did. “I’m always open to new ideas. And I really enjoy getting to know my customers — new and returning.
I know 95 per cent of the customers’ names and I try my best to remember their orders and how they take their drinks. There are a lot of students who come through here that I haven’t gotten to know yet, but I plan too. It definitely makes a difference when you know your customers personally.”
Catherine said there is also a catering business run out of the restaurant and they can serve parties or business meetings of up to 40 individuals.
“Forty is our ideal number for catering an event, but with enough notice and time we can do groups up to 150,” she said. “We normally focus more on office meetings, training sessions, that kind of thing.” “We’re not a fancy place. We’re definitely not a Starbucks, but we do care a lot abut the people we serve and I’ve always been fully supportive of the community.
I like to help the little guy get ahead.” Catherine said that she has many plans to better the business in the near future and asks our readers to stay tune for them and to follow her updates on social media. “I will be accepting debit soon because right now we’re cash only,” she said. “And I have a lot of new ideas in the works too.”