The roots of Mural City Coffee Company—a name taken from Dothan, Alabama’s myriad wall-sized murals depicting historic events and prominent people in the area—can be traced to places as disparate as Iowa and Germany. Unlike many other historic preservation projects of this size, the transformation of the building into a vibrant spot for locals to drink coffee and tea, hold meetings, display art, and host poetry readings was one family’s do-it-yourself labor of love.
1. When did you open Mural City Roasters, and what was the inspiration behind it?
We opened Mural City Coffee Company to the public in November of 2018, but we spent a couple of years of planning, renovating, and preparing before that grand opening. Our inspiration came from several things, namely our love of coffee, the need for an inclusive third-space in our city, and the drive to help revitalize our downtown.
2. Is there a story behind your current location?
Our location is a whole story on its own! We are located in a 1500 sq. ft. building (built in 1923) in the heart of our downtown. It is a three-story brick building with so many unique features (like a huge freight elevator!) Its age and the condition of the building certainly attributed to the years of renovations, and most of those renovations entailed simply bringing the building back to its original glory - re-exposing the brick walls, sanding the floors, soda-blasting the wooden rafters, etc. We did just about everything we could do on our own as a family when it came down to the restoration and re-build. Preservation Magazine actually came down for an interview after all was said & done and produced a really good write-up of our journey that you can read on our website, muralcityroasters.com
3. How have you seen your business grow from the early days until now?
Honestly, we've grown in almost every way you could think of besides a second location. We've grown as business owners and operators, our customer base has grown, and our ideas have grown as well. When you launch a business like this you may think you are 100% prepared before your doors open, but until you've actually been behind the steering wheel of an operating business you really don't know what you're in for. Fortunately, our community was excited about our opening and was graceful with our initial shortcomings. Now, after several years of business and growth, a day rarely passes that we are not actively focused on continuous improvement, from how we foster our work environment to how we serve our customers and beyond. We are currently focusing on updating our employee on-boarding procedures, expanding our roasted coffee and loose-leaf tea sales, and soon, hosting classes on roasting and barista skills once it's safe for everyone.
4. Can you tell us about some of your most loyal coffee drinkers?
Funny you should ask, because we are currently in the middle of a social media campaign that highlights some of our most frequent customers! You can check out the "Meet MCCC" series on our Facebook and Instagram. I really don't know where to begin when it comes to describing our most loyal customers, but I know that the title "customers" doesn't really do them justice. We are eternally grateful for those that have chosen to support us from near and far. We know individuals, couples, and families that have been visiting us almost daily since we opened, and we are getting to know more people every day. We are located in the same city as the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine (as well as Troy University - Dothan Campus and Wallace Community College), so we get to know a lot of students too. We are just so grateful for those that go the extra mile to order from us online or visit us regularly for a drink and a chat, and they can rest assured that we know them by name, and we wouldn't be the same company without their support. I won't name any names in fear of leaving anyone out, but again, I do encourage anyone who is interested to read about just a few of those special people over on our social media pages.
5. How has your business changed over the last year? What opportunities do you see moving forward?
Like it was for all of our fellow small businesses, this past year was... something else. The COVID-19 pandemic really hit everyone in our industry like a brick wall. We spent a lot of this past year scraping the bottom of the barrel for ideas that would keep us afloat while simultaneously resisting any shortcomings in the quality of our product. As the saying goes, pressure makes diamonds, and we were able to come up with some fun ideas in the midst of such a scary time. We worked on a plan for coffee subscriptions (thanks, Per-Diem!), released half-gallon drink options for those who wanted to support us without leaving home too often, and we came up with a special "Pandemic Relief Team" shirt and gift box that was available for anyone who just wanted to lend a helping hand. Now that we can see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, we are working even harder knowing that we have a solid business, a loyal following, an incredible team, and some awesome ideas for future growth. Like I mentioned before, we are currently focusing on providing some things our customers have asked for (like classes on roasting, cupping, barista skills, tea brewing, etc.) as well as expanding the roastery side of things and teaming up with some awesome local businesses and organizations for other projects.