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When Craig Amo first opened Cup-a-Joe at the end of 2005, he did so knowing that Bedford was still suffering withdrawal symptoms from the closing of R-U-Up, a popular coffee shop. R-U-UP closed in May of that year.
Amo recently sold the shop and one of the new owners, Kathy McGary, was part of the family that ran R-U-Up. She, her two sisters and her mother, Priscilla Williams, ran the coffee shop. Williams was responsible for all of the coffee shop’s food – cinnamon buns, chicken salad and pimento cheese spread. Now, she’s working part time in Cup-a-Joe’s kitchen producing these, and other food items.
Why did McGary go back in the coffee shop business?
“Because I’m obviously insane,” she said, laughing.
McGary said that the real reason is that there was a lot she missed about the coffee shop business. She said that she loves the customers and likes Bedford’s downtown merchants. Cup-a-Joe is in a nice space and purchasing the business from Amo allowed her to take over a business that was already well established.
“It’s fun,” she said. “A lot of these people I knew for years.”
McGary said that her mother missed the business, too. Now, she’s preparing most of Cup-a-Joe’s baked goods.
“We make homemade soup, chicken salad and pimento cheese,” McGary said. And cinnamon buns and quiche.
Cup-a-Joe has a kitchen upstairs and Williams comes in three days a week.
“More if they need me,” she said.
The advantage of Cup-a-Joe, for McGary, is that it’s a smaller operation than R-U-Up which, McGary said, became overwhelming.
The room next to Cup-a-Joe housed Etc., a gift shop. McGary is converting this into a space with a table and easy chairs.
“This will be a little bit quieter,” she said, noting that people who come into the main part of the coffee shop like to talk. This space will allow people who want to enjoy their coffee and cinnamon bun in a quieter atmosphere. It’s laptop friendly as the entire shop is a WiFi hotspot.
McGary’s partner is a young woman named Mykia Wilson. Wilson was Amo’s employee when he had the shop. The 2004 Liberty High School graduate is now co-owner.
“It was a great opportunity,” she said.
It works out well for both of them. McGary said that Wilson knows the customers, knows exactly what they want and how to prepare it. She also knows what sells and what doesn’t. Futhermore, McGary noted that the customers know Wilson and like her.
Wilson, in turn, benefits from McGary’s experience. She has a full time sales job, but it’s a job that allows her to periodically advise Wilson over the phone.
“I deal with the coffee, she deals with behind-the-scenes,” commented Wilson.
In the future, McGary plans to make space for private parties and host community oriented events. She said that the space she has will work well for small groups.