Bonfire Coffee to expand to Willits Town Center
As one Carbondale coffee shop closes its doors, another is looking to expand.
Bonfire Coffee has launched a fundraising campaign to help the local cafe expand to a new location in the Elements by Westin hotel at Willits. Both the hotel and the coffee shop are slated to open in the fall.
“Willits is the demographic that really fits our premium coffee offerings,” said Bonfire owner Charlie Chacos. He plans to retain the elements that make Bonfire a success in Carbondale, namely “a welcoming, exciting place to meet and get great coffee.”
The announcement comes less than a month after Boomerang Coffee closed its doors after nearly a year in operation. Formerly The Blend, Boomerang was an attempt by the local Jaywalker Lodge addiction-treatment center to provide employment for residents and alumni and put a public face on the program. Proceeds were supposed to go to a local nonprofit, but the economics never quite clicked.
“We could not make it work financially as a business,” said Jaywalker Lodge founder Bob Ferguson.
Chacos is the first to admit that the coffee business is no cakewalk.
“The margins are very slim, so success and failure are always closer than people realize,” he said.
That’s why he’s going to the community for a little help. Bonfire’s $20,000 goal on Kickstarter.com would cover just a fraction of the $200,000 project cost but holds other potential benefits.
“There’s a number of profitable companies that use Kickstarter to get people excited and give them an opportunity to support what they want to see in their community,” Chacos said.
Every advantage helps as a small local coffee shop prepares to go head to head with coffee giant Starbucks — Willits hosts one of the company’s 21,536 shops.
Chacos is confident.
“We offer something different than Starbucks offers,” he said. “We’re all about community and quality over quantity. I think there’s a lot of people who will support local.”
As for whether the region is likely to see more Bonfire coffee shops in the future, Chacos isn’t ready to commit. More likely, he said, Bonfire will continue to expand as a supplier rather than a cafe in its own right. The upvalley location just happened to be a perfect match.
“Willits is the demographic that really fits our premium coffee offerings,” he said. “Everyone that we’ve talked to is very excited.”
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