Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin and Allison Real.
Justin and Allison, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My wife and I had talked about building our own coffee shop for a few years. We own Real Industrial Edge Furniture and had been building out hotels, restaurants, bars, etc. For years, we always wanted to be able to do a coffee shop our way. One evening at dinner with family, the conversation was brought up and it just seemed the time was right. The next day, planning started and we started getting our business in order. We had always planned on building in Loveland because we believed there was a real need for what we planned to do. Loveland is used to low quality coffee with sugary syrups and a mom and pop atmosphere. So, we saw the opportunity to bring together the things we love and share them with others in the town we love.
Our focus is quality first and money second because we truly love what we are serving. We pay a premium for our coffee from Coava coffee roasters in Oregon because they truly do something special. They are a true direct trade coffee roaster and they buy entire crops from farmers and commit to them so the farmer has stability through its relationship with Coava. Our chocolate is no different. True bean to bar chocolate where farmers are the priority and it shows in the quality. We use Honey bs authentic macarons from Denver because they are truly authentic. We are soy free and offer a large amount of gluten-free and vegan options.
We started looking for a space in Loveland and knew that could take time. In the meantime, our plan was to really do our work before we ever opened. We started setting updates to serve coffee and our products at various events downtown. We built a mobile cart to take to the events. At 95% of these events, we never charged. We gave away coffee, tea, kombucha, macarons, chocolate all for free just so potential customers would chat with us about what we wanted to do. 100% of this was paid for by the other work we were doing at Real Industrial Edge Furniture. A few events were too big to not charge like the hemp expo and maker fair. If we all didn’t charge at these, our line would be too long and we would never keep up. After several months in, we had looked at several spaces and finally found one. It was a dump which was honestly what we always wanted because we knew we could turn anything into something special. We quickly signed our lease and started moving forward. Week after week, on construction on this space went by and a year had passed and we were getting closer to seeing the reality. All this time, we were taking more work than ever with the furniture business to pay for our build out and events we were doing for free along with our new lease.
Unfortunately, at the same time every week, we would get calls from the building owner that got stranger all the time. He was upset that we were improving his building too much and his taxes would go up. He was upset that his tenant at a next-door space didn’t like the noise being caused by construction. It was a biker bar. One week he would tell us to stop working the next he would say hurry and open. It came time for electric to install our espresso machine and the electrician came in and immediately said: ” this place is going to catch fire.” This brought the city in to inspect and turns out the building owner did all his own electric work unpermitted. A couple of days later, we show up to the building and are met with an eviction notice. The owner was mad that the city found out about his unpermitted work so he listed several bogus reasons he was evicting us. None were legitimate reasons. We retained a lawyer and he said at least for now, take it as a sign and get your belongings out. So, we did and our lawyer sent a letter to the building owner stating we need him to submit for bringing building up to code which we would still pay for. He responded saying he was going to sue us. So, we were out of a space, a year’s work and about $100000 spent.
Our lawyer convinced us we had an open and shut case so no worry We wouldn’t get our money back through a lawsuit, so we went ahead with a lawsuit. We considered quitting but we just got rejuvenated about two days later. Another building owner heard what happened and had a building for lease that was an abandoned building in worse shape than our first space. We saw the potential and jumped on it knowing it was even more work than before. So, another year passed of construction, working at the furniture business, doing free events with our cart, our lawsuit. We were close. Our lawsuit drastically changed when we found out a couple of things. Our lawyer was best friends with a person trying to buy the building we put the work into and were evicted from so his confidence about our case disappeared. Along with the building official who backed out who had more than enough evidence through phone calls and emails from our building owner to win us the lawsuit. So, we spent another $20000 on a lawyer and it was just thrown away. So, we have been open almost two years now and turned an unwalkable street into something special. Three other businesses have now turned empty spaces into vibrant businesses on our end of town and are helping us elevate this overlooked side of town. We truly didn’t start this business to make a lot of money. We just wanted to create a space to share things we love and do it together as husband and wife.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s easy advice. If there’s something you truly want then you cannot blow it off. You owe it to yourself to go after it. Life is very short and there are thousands of reasons you shouldn’t do anything.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Dark Heart Coffee Bar – what should we know?
We strive to have true, genuine interactions with customers every day. We are honestly serving things we love that we enjoy and want to share these with others and make them happy. Sadly, this is what sets us apart from everyone else. We have genuine interactions and love what we do.
So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
We do feel there are challenges facing women today. we’ve seen it along our journey. My wife being told she’s in over her head this entire process by sexist men. There is the opportunity to prove them wrong and that is up to you to do that.
- Website: Www.darkheartcoffeebar.com
- Phone: 9702812293
- Email: Darkheartcoffeebar@yahoo.com
- Instagram: Darkheartcoffeebar
- Facebook: Darkheartcoffeebar
- Twitter: Darkheartcoffeebar