By Veronica Sandate Craker
The smell of fresh roasted coffee hits you the moment you enter Barracuda Coffee in Richland.
The friendly staff banters with regulars, efficiently creating coffee drinks and helping customers. The music mixes with the voices of customers chatting away inside the 1,400-sq.-ft. building on Van Giesen Street, creating a vibrant scene.
Barracuda owners Jake and Michelle Shupe hope a new business venture will draw these same crowds to the shop late in the evening.
“Sometimes in the evenings you’d just rather have a glass of beer or a nice glass of wine instead of a cup of coffee to just help you relax,” Jake Shupe said.
The company is adding beer and wine to its menu, which has been revamped to include panini sandwiches, salads, soups and vegetable trays.
“Coffee is a great medium for building a relationship and we’re just trying to find a way we can extend that and obviously build revenue into our business as well,” he said. “Beer and wine just seemed like a great medium, as well, considering there’s not a whole lot in Richland that fits that quiet model.”
The couple is creating a concept they call “Barracuda After Hours.” After 6 p.m. the coffee shop’s drive-thru window will close and guests can order beer or wine to accompany their meal.
The couple says they aren’t trying to turn the restaurant into a bar, but want to create a relaxing place customers can go to have a drink and visit with friends.
“We’re not going to be a bar,” Jake Shupe said. “There’s not going to be a TV. There’s not going to be a pool table. It’s more like a café. We want to keep it quiet and classy enough so that people can have a conversation. For us, it’s all about relationships.”
Barracuda Coffee started serving hot meals in early December. The panini sandwiches are made at Ethos Bakery in Richland and trucked over every morning. The sandwiches are grilled to order at the coffee shop.
“We are also going to try and do a cheese and olive plate, a hummus plate and pasta salads and soups,” said Michelle Shupe.
Jake Shupe estimates the complete ‘After Hours’ overhaul will cost them about $10,000. The shop already employs eight people, but the couple said they would hire at least two additional workers to help in the evening hours. The restaurant will have extended hours until 9 p.m.
“We’ll probably change the music over at 6 p.m. and have it a little quieter,” Michelle Shupe said. “I’m excited just to see people come in here and use it for a different purpose.”
Despite getting their liquor license this month the couple hasn’t decided if they will introduce Barracuda After Hours in January or wait until March.
“January and February are our slowest time of the year,” Jake Shupe said. “So do we go forward with that and risk it not helping business or do we wait until March when we pick up again?”
The Shupes said they would let their customers know when the extended hours would be implemented, but until then the full food menu is available to order.
“I’m also excited to give people a place to come in the evening, where they feel like it’s not a bar and they’re not being pressured, just a relaxing environment,” said Jake Shupe. “For the workers, the drive-thru can get pretty hectic and sometimes it’s nice to take off your headset and focus on the person in front of you.”
Barracuda Coffee Company is at 2171 Van Giesen St. in Richland. It is open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays; 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. The phone number is 946-6058. For more information, go to www.barracudacoffeecompany.com.