A Place for All in Montgomery County
29 Sep 2021
If there was a perfect business for Coffeyville, Kansas, it would be, well, coffee. As Matthew Frech considered opening a coffee shop in the town, he was thinking in a bit more deeper terms.
“We wanted to create a gathering place where people could be creative and grow in their personal and professional relationships,” he said.
Frech and his wife have accomplished that, opening up Terebinth Coffeehouse & Roastery in downtown Coffeyville. The name itself lends to the gathering place theme. As they were developing a name, they wanted to find something to encapsulate the qualities of a bright meeting place and bright spot.
“We settled on a tree and all the nuances that go along with trees, such as being rooted, full of life and providing shelter,” said Frech. “We chose Terebinth, because it was a meeting place in the Bible where Abraham would come back often to recenter.”
The biblical theme fits since Frech was a youth minister after moving to Coffeyville about five years ago after attending Ozark Community College in Joplin, MO to study music and worship. Conversations with high school kids during his ministry would frequently include discussions on wishing there was a space in town to meet, hang out, and just feel safe.
“We would talk about what that space would look like if someone else were to do it,” he said. “It kept coming up, the idea wouldn’t go away, and finally, we had to decide if it was something we needed to genuinely consider doing.”
Frech said after a lot of thought and prayer, they decided to pursue it. They were rewarded with considerable help getting started. Bob York, a Coffeyville city commissioner, introduced them to local individuals involved with Coffeyville’s Reawakening, an initiative that seeks to help small businesses to understand the hurdles that may occur in starting up a business. The Kansas SBDC at Pittsburg State University was extremely helpful developing a business plan, menus, pricing and understanding their business category.
“Our plan was rooted in our wish for a space for students, a ministry-oriented pursuit in the shape of a coffee shop,” said Frech.
Their downtown location is a building that has had many uses in the past - an old flower shop, office space, thrift store, and even an hispanic church. Renovations included new flooring, building a new bathroom and kitchen, removal of the drop ceiling, repainting, and construction of a stage and dining area. The coffee itself has grown as they learned how to roast fresh beans. They have a full time employee who had experience in roasting, with their product now appealing to the palates of customers who were not familiar with the range of tastes available from fresh roasted coffee.
Their hard launch was March 10, 2020, so they were open for two weeks before having to close for six. They were not open long enough to develop a customer base because not many people knew they even existed. Having to lay off their eight employees was extremely difficult, but they used that time to rebuild their website, develop online sales, and market on Facebook.
“In retrospect, those six weeks were probably best for his health because it was pretty stressful and I was not getting much rest,” said Frech.
While they were able to get by financially once they were allowed to open the store after those six weeks, the pandemic limitations made running their business very difficult psychologically.
“The purpose for opening the shop in the first place was to provide a gathering space for the community,” said Frech. “With no indoor seating and no people coming in, we were not able to fulfill that purpose for a while.”
But as time has passed, they have experienced continuous, tremendous support from the community. They have developed a set of regular customers while being treated to a steady flow of new customers who share their social media posts and purchase their roasted beans.
“Folks use our space to work remotely, some doing their Zoom calls, with groups holding their weekly gatherings or business meetings here,” said Frech. “But we are still working on getting the college students in.”
Bringing in the youth is a significant portion of their future plans. They have hired an employee to develop creative events that college students would enjoy and have continued to learn what their best open hours are. A local hotel will be purchasing their roasted beans for their location. A friend is in the beginning of painting an outdoor mural as well. A lot is trial and error, not being afraid of putting themselves out there, said Frech.