While the coffee scene in Conway is anything but sparse, one couple has found a way to deliver the espresso beverage for a good cause.
John and Jo Smith used to live in Portland, Oregon.
Jo said all across the city were little coffee kiosks.
Fast forward to her now Conway residency, one day she was driving by the Walmart on Harkrider and happened upon a for sale sign at the former Ketchum’s Cappuccino Espresso coffee drive-thru
When she got home she told John about it and, together, decided to call. They found out that the owner was selling the stand and decided to buy it.
Jo said she had always had the idea in the back of her mind to have some sort of business that would allow them to give back to special needs children and their families — her inspiration comes from their son Jacob, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, ADHD and is on the autism spectrum — but had no idea this would be the way they did that.
The stand opened Aug. 1.
“It’s kind of crazy what’s happened in the past two or three weeks,” John said.
In addition to that, he said, the city itself and the local businesses and community have been great to work with and so supportive of what they’re trying to do, aligning with their cause.
“We’re blessed to be able to do this and so far, it’s been tons of fun,” John said. “In such a small period of time [we’ve] gotten so much momentum.”
He said he has customers every day that share with him the impact the new business has made on their lives, including a woman who came by the other day with her daughter who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Graves’ Disease.
“Having those conversations is a lot of fun,” John said. “Just to meet people and maybe give them a glimmer of there’s somebody out there that feels your pain.”
On the other side of that, he said, he also has a lot of people swing by who are just thankful for a local, drive-thru option.
The Smith family is doing their part in that as well -- they buy as much locally as possible due to Blue Sail Coffee being their roaster.
“I feel like we’re all helping each other out,” Jo said.
John said they’ve tried to be very intentional about staying local with their sourcing, a big point for them from the beginning, redirecting it all back into the community.
He said the buy-local aspect was always cliche to him but now that he’s in it, he gets it.
“It’s a community,” John said. “It really is. It’s a community thing.”
As far as the charity aspect goes, he said, they have decided not to start their own but rather work with several around the area that are already doing great things.
“One of the thing we’re finding out is there are a lot of organizations here in Faulkner County and in Conway that people don’t even know about,” John said.”Our mission now not only is give back but really bring some awareness to the community, what is here, what resources, what organizations are here that really want to help out.”
Overall, their goal is that 10 percent of their profits go back to local charitable organizations.
As a new business, John said, they have to grow profits to do that but are using the grand-opening event Aug. 17 and 18 to give all the money they take in that day back to charity … make an immediate impact on the front end.
“Let’s go ahead and give a ton back,” he said.
John said they are also inviting several local agencies to come and be a part of that, to have a venue to share who they are and what they do with the public.
As far as what the future holds, he said, his ultimate dream is to have locations throughout central Arkansas.
“I would love for one of these to exist in different communities and exist to support those communities,” John said.
The drive-thru coffee joint is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.