There's More Than One Perk to this Coffee Shop
By Kathryn Bohri | From Main Street Story of the Week | January 5, 2011 |
That’s right, a haircut. Walk through the Perks Café to get to the Perks Salon, where customers can sip gourmet espresso drinks while getting a new ‘do. Traci and Chad Cook, lifelong Aledo residents and owners of the building and Perks Café, bought the crumbling building across from Aledo’s Central Park after their attempts to purchase an old gas station fell through.
The Aledo Main Street program has worked closely with the owners of Perks Café to provide help with rehabbing the building and marketing the business. “It’s a fun place to be, the energy is really good, and it has a wide variety of food,” says Aledo Main Street Manager Pam Myers.
The baristas prepare gourmet espresso drinks like the kind served by chain coffee shops, but with a local twist. They also boast rockin’ good sandwiches and their own coffee blend – the Perks Roast, says Traci Cook.
Aledo Main Street has been an important driver of business for Perks. From group marketing programs to receptions and meetings, Perks has benefited from the Main Street program. “We pay a fee each year and Pam places us as a sponsor for a number of events,” says Traci, “PR is something we didn’t really think about.”
The building had stood vacant for five years; it required a new heating system, new electric and extensive floor work, as well as repairs to the roof and a deteriorating exterior wall. Today, the building boasts a spacious outdoor patio and funky design.
“Our goal was that when you walked in you felt like you were someplace else – someplace kind of groovy and funky. Like you were in Fort Collins or a small neighborhood in New York City,” says Traci Cook.
The Main Street Design Committee brought in an architect and a designer to walk through the space and make suggestions during the tour. The committee even supplied the Cooks with a professionally designed Perks logo. Although they already had an artist-designed logo, Traci took some of their suggestions to her local contractor. “That was a free service, and it was awesome,” says Cook.
When the Cooks purchased the building, a local salon owner approached them about operating a salon in the building in a space that was previously a nail salon. What would have been a difficult business to keep afloat in a town of 3,000 became easier with an additional tenant occupying the space. The surprising business combo has been successful since its opening in October 2008. So successful, that the Perks Café is opening a second location 30 miles away in Moline, Iliinois – sans salon, unfortunately.
Perks customers also got a chance to send two Aledo high school students to college with a Main Street Scholarship by voting with their purchases at the café. For each dollar spent (change would round up or down, depending), customers would vote for the student of their choice to receive the $500 scholarship. This year, two students, out of 14 candidates, received the prize. Main Street shoppers cast a total of 104,000 votes at 20 participating businesses.
Traci Cook has some advice for businesses that have access to Main Street revitalization efforts: “Use your Main Street program! Make them your resource. You don’t have to do everything by yourself. There are services you don’t know they offer. If I were going to start a business, I’d look for a Main Street. They’re top notch.”
“We’re located between the beans and the cornfields,” says Myers, “People who travel the back roads and end up here say that it is so refreshing to happen upon a downtown that is alive.”