Jackie Swain Coe ’95 and her husband Shawn Coe ’95 decided to purchase a small-town coffee shop last summer. When deciding on the name, they considered the address of the café – 1 East Main Street. Jackie said, “We were playing around with names and considered One East Café. My sister suggested moving the word Café to the beginning so it would spell out our last name. It was serendipitous.”
In fact, everything about owning a coffee shop just fell into place for Jackie and Shawn. Both having full-time jobs — Jackie as the superintendent for the John Stark School District and Shawn as chief technology officer for Echo Ridge in Concord — they weren’t actively looking to purchase a coffee shop. In fact, Shawn admits he didn’t know much about coffee in general. But when a close friend decided to sell his café in Warner, N.H., Jackie and Shawn felt the time was right to start a new family venture.
Purchasing the shop in July of 2020 and opening for business on Labor Day weekend, the Coes did not have any delusions about starting a business in the middle of a pandemic. Shawn says they had a reasonable expectation of what would be needed to own a business during these challenging times.
In the last several months, Café One East has gained both local and out-of-state customers. Some of the most popular menu choices offered include maple lattes and chai, breakfast sandwiches, BLTs, grilled cheese, soups and smoothies. One of their favorite offerings is their Dealer’s Choice coffee. When ordering, the barista asks the customer a set of questions, often including their favorite author and song artist and a bit about their day. The barista then puts together a coffee drink specific to them. Of course, if the customer doesn’t like the drink, they are welcome to try something else. Shawn said, “So far, no one has ever said they didn’t like their Dealer’s Choice.”
The opening of the café has been a fun family experience. Jackie and Shawn’s two girls — Abigail, 20, and Amelia, 18 — both work at the coffee shop. “We are always looking to have a fun experience and it is a core piece of who we are,” said Shawn. “We wanted the girls to see that someone can make something happen.”
Opening a business during a pandemic hasn’t been easy, but they are insistent on making it through. Their advice to others in starting a business? Shawn says, “If you want to do something, you can do it. You can make it work.”
All one needs is some hard work, determination and a little bit of serendipity.