From Concept to Creation - Building an Oasis in the City

By Tim Coonan, Founder of Big Shoulders Coffee

When my wife and I were young we lived in New York. At that time I was early in my culinary career and, for lack of a better term, “dirt poor”. Being a budding foodie and chef in New York is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand I was living in an epicurean paradise. On the other hand, many places were beyond my budget.  However, on occasion my wife and I would manage to save enough money to enjoy a meal at one of the city’s top restaurants. Once such occasion was a trip to an amazing French restaurant for brunch called, Lutece. When we walked in we immediately felt out of place. Here were two 20-somethings, one of which was wearing a borrowed suit that didn’t quite fit.  However, rather than add to our discomfort the chef, Andrea Soltner, went out of his way to make us comfortable. He sat us down at the bar and over cocktails gave a young culinary hopeful advice and an amazing meal.

This experience is the first of many that influenced me when I opened the first Big Shoulders Coffee location.  I want Big Shoulders to be a “third place” for our customers. It’s not home and it’s not work. It is the other space you go to for connection and comfort. When you walk through the doors you are welcomed into a space where you belong. Over the subtle sounds and smells of a coffee shop people from all walks of life come to share their joys and sorrows. They come to contemplate and connect. We create the space for all of that to happen.

I like to describe the experience in our cafes as being like going to a friend’s house for a potluck dinner. When you walk in it is the little details that let you know you are welcome. The host takes your coat, invites you to sit down and brings you a drink. Everyone walks in bringing a different dish or course and yet somehow the meal always come together perfectly.  It isn’t fancy, but it is comfortable and welcoming. This is the experience we strive to bring our customers every time they walk through the doors.

Whether you are a Big Shoulders regular or new to our cafes, I invite you to join us at one of our locations for a cup of coffee and a respite from the craziness outside. Visit our website to find the closest Big Shoulders Coffee location to you.