Coffee to go at Edgerton train depot

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Neil Johnson
May 21, 2014

EDGERTON—An investor hopes drive-up service in three minutes or less will brew business in a downtown where others' java dreams have failed.

Edgerton resident Scott Cramer is fronting Depot Café, a new coffee shop at the Edgerton Depot at 20 S. Main St.

The shop opens in June.

It's the second coffee shop to open in the train depot in two years, and the downtown's third coffee shop in less than five years.

The last coffee shop in the depot, the Railway Express Café, closed last winter after being open less than a year.

Depot Café will run as a classic coffee shop, with a service counter and kitchen inside the depot and dining areas inside and outside on a deck and side patio. But Cramer's got a different plan he hopes will keep Depot Café running like a railroad whistle stop: car-side coffee to go.

Here's how it will work: Customers can pull their vehicles into a lot off Fulton Street on the depot's north side. There, a greeter stationed next to a menu board will take customer orders and communicate with workers inside using a radio headset.

The greeter will then direct customers to pull alongside the depot, where a server will meet them with orders to go.

Cramer said the process should to take about two minutes.

“That's how it will run, all day and evening,” Cramer said.

Cramer said he wants to embrace three elements of chain food service he most admired while working as an investor in the bustling Chicago suburbs—speed and efficiency.

 “I was raised in the land of corporate—Starbucks and Portillo's Hot Dogs. People are on the move. If you do a good job in food service, you keep up with them. You help them to keep moving. I think of it as the Portillo's model,” Cramer said.

Cramer, who is a local investment planner, said he spent months analyzing what makes coffee shops work—or not. He's watched Starbucks' drive-through customers at Starbucks get their coffee in less than two minutes.

He's also driven by local coffee shops that open early in the day but close early.

He said limited hours might have hurt past coffee shops in Edgerton.

“One of the big threats to being a coffee shop is if you have limited hours. You've got to be willing to be staffed and running whenever people want to come in. That's morning, noon and evening,” Cramer said.

Door County Coffee and Tea, a Sturgeon Bay-based wholesaler that specializes in roasting Arabica coffee beans, will supply coffee at the shop. Cramer is working on a partnership with Stoughton-based Fosdal Home Bakery for baked goods.

Cramer is leasing the bulk of the space inside the depot, which also houses a local history museum and the Edgerton Area Chamber of Commerce office. He plans to decorate Depot Café in a “classic Wisconsin” style he believes locals and visitors will find cozy and nostalgic.

“That's the Mayberry factor,” Cramer said.

The Edgerton City Council agreed this week to allow Depot Café to run drive-through lanes in the parking lot on a “temporary” basis, provided customer traffic doesn't back up onto Fulton Street or block a parking access lane to apartments next door, City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said.

Cramer said if drive-through service ends up being a major draw, he could ask the city to permit it permanently.

Cramer believes that eventually, 40 to 50 percent of customers will use the drive-through service.

“It won't just be a cozy place to hang out,” Cramer said. “We think the numbers will show that.”

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