Sunday, June 3, 2012
We're one month in our new house and it's time for a first evaluation.
This one month felt longer and more special then a full year at Hopland. I've been working my ass off (sorry for my French) to get the act together, on time in full. That was very heavy but also very satisfying now.
The opening days were veeeery busy! It looked like the whole of Antwerp was interested in this new project and after 9 succesful years at Hopland people expected a lot.
The reactions on the new bar were very positive, although we see that a lot of regulars don't come back after their first visit. This is understandable. There were a lot of reasons why someone likes a certain bar and if the main reason why you like something dissapears I can fully understand you become unsattisfied.
The opposite, luckily for us, is happening as well ; the last couple of years with had dozens of complaints a week about the fact the 80 square meters at Hopland were way too small to fit all this machinery, coffee, staff and (mainly) clients. This problem is solved now. Even having 60 people on the floor, we still don't feel rushed or packed.
At Hopland there was actually just one big group and atmostphere. I've always been very enthousiastic about it. The basic idea 9 years ago was to offer people a cosy relaxed place to spend some quality time with quality coffee. Over the years though it became more and more a café-like bar where the walls were buzzing. I always thought that was more unique and special then the feeling we had the first couple of years, but of course I also felt sorrow for those who didn't find a seat or didn't like this busy character that much.
Now at the Mechelsesteenweg we have more options. Yes we miss some cosyness, although there still is, but we have now a lot of options and you can be yourself and pick the corner or bar you like most. Feel like a chat with the Barista? Want to read a book at ease? You need to have a meeting? Feel the busy Antwerp city life at the upstairs windows? Have a romantic moment in the lounge or you just want to 'talk coffee' in the shop?
My ambition was to group all this under one roof. Up to you to decide if you like it or not, sure thing is that our line : "Specialty Coffee Roaster" is very prominent.
With all due respect to Caffenation in the early years and the Starbuckses of this world but big lattes with syrup, chocolate drinks with whipped cream, lungo's or milkshakes are not "Specialty" at all.
The focus on black coffee, stronger milk-based drinks and the more prominent coffee bags and brewers are the way we want to go.
'The future of coffee is black' was printed on our bags since we opened our own Roastery, and that's what we want to spread.
Meanwhile don't forget the Take Out Nation at Hopland. With 8 square meters the smallest bar in Antwerp, but worth a visit for sure.
4 weeks ago I was surprized we had less take away coffee then in the original bar, but now we're way ahead. It's a formula that has been picked up and sees a nice future ahead.
So, 1 month after the move we can say to be happy where we are. In the figures we count less students but more non-students. Yes we miss those youngsters, but it's never too late to get back together.
And to all our clients : thank you very much for all support we had during the tough change and together we're looking at a bright future and a lot of (black or white) coffee, tea, soda's, choconation, etc...