By LOU WILIN
It donates all of its profits to charity.
That’s why the downtown Findlay coffee shop/eatery has a period in the middle of its name, right after the words, “We Serve.”
“We Serve. Coffee” was started six years ago by Dr. Greg Arnette and his family as a way to give back to the community. Each quarter, the business picks two charities to whom to donate its profits, said Jack Winans, who now owns the business.
It earns the money to pay the bills and make charitable donations by serving coffee, tea and other beverages along with pastries and breakfast and lunch.
Winans attributes the success of the business to two things. One, it uses “high-end” products and ingredients, he said.
“We don’t skimp,” he said.
Its other strength is its ability to cater to customers’ needs.
“That’s one thing that I think sets us apart. Even though we have a menu, we’re able to go off-script often because we can cater. As long as we have the items, we can cater to the needs of the consumer coming in,” Winans said. “So if you need vegan or you need gluten-free, you need dairy-free, we’re able to do that and meet those needs easily because we make everything to order.”
As “fulfilling” an enterprise as it has been for Winans, he was initially reluctant to get involved with the business.
“I had worked in the restaurant industry before,” he said. “Wasn’t what I wanted to do.”
Winans came to Findlay as a University of Findlay student in 1991. While attending school, he worked. His first job in Findlay was as a waiter at the former Frisch’s Big Boy. He also worked at a couple of other eateries before working at Findlay Country Club.
He got his first restaurant management job at Skyline Chili in Findlay, but then it closed. Winans then spent 12 years as a stay-at-home dad for his three children.
He then found getting hired for a job difficult. Employers did not understand the 12-year layoff from employment, he said.
But four years ago, Winans caught the attention of Arnette, who had opened “We Serve. Coffee” as a way to give back to the community by giving away its profits to charities. Arnette needed a new manager because the first manager was moving on.
Winans was cooking meals for over 100 people at weekly classes at St. Marks United Methodist Church, where he worshiped.
“It was fun,” Winans said.
Arnette and his wife, who also went to the church, helped with the meal preparations one week and saw Winans at work.
Arnette approached him about managing “We Serve. Coffee.” Winans did not immediately agree to do it. Arnette did not give up.
“He was really persistent because I didn’t want to,” Winans said.
After “quite a few months,” Winans agreed to try it.
Winans liked it. He liked the atmosphere. He felt a great sense of purpose. Two years later, he bought the coffee shop/eatery from Arnette.
It was 2017, a tough time to own a small business in downtown Findlay. Many would-be customers stayed away for much of the year because streets and sidewalks were torn up for a downtown makeover.
More adversity hit last spring when a gas line was installed along East Sandusky Street. Construction equipment and vehicles scared away many would-be customers, Winans said.
The charities did not receive as much money because profits were down. But they got more than Winans. He has not taken a paycheck since early in the year, he said. Those funds are instead being put into the business’s emergency fund.
The construction in 2017 “and the stuff that happened this spring for us really kind of took our emergency fund down. So right now I’m working on replenishing that emergency fund,” he said. “So if we have a lean time again, we’re not going to close because of a lean time. We have to have something to fall back on.”