Coffee-lovers will rejoice with Joe Van Gogh’s new location (its fourth in Durham), opening this summer in a former gas station at 1114 West Chapel Hill St., across from the Durham Co-op. The area has been exploding recently with new restaurants and businesses, and Joe Van Gogh is the latest of the bunch, along with Local Yogurt, who will share the space with them.
The local coffee company will take the right side of the shop with two large garage doors, which they can roll up when it’s warm. Though they’re still deciding how exactly to blend the inside and outside spaces, the new location represents an exciting time for fans of Joe Van Gogh.
Leah Bergman, owner of Local Yogurt, has taken the reigns on this project. She loves the sense of community in the area and the mix of commercial and residential buildings. She contacted Joe Van Gogh about sharing the space after her contractor suggested it, and says she is thrilled to have them on board.
Joe Van Gogh’s owner, Robbie Roberts, says they were immediately interested in the location after Bergman contacted them.
“I’m thankful to Local Yogurt for approaching us with this opportunity. As soon as I saw the space, I knew it would make sense to be there. And re-using a gas-station is something I’ve always thought of as a great fit for a coffeehouse. I’ve always kind of liked the relatively small footprint their architecture and it’s kind of a reminder of the way this country grew up. Old gas stations are really cool, and it’s nice to repurpose them for something else,” he says.
They’ll have to take some time and learn what they can and can’t do when using the doors. “Summers can be really hot,” Roberts noted, but mentioned that other seasons, when the weather is more moderate, would be a good time to open up the garage doors and give a more open feel.
Roberts also knows it’s the people that contribute to the ambiance of a place, not just the physical space. He’s seen his customers grow old in his coffee shops and says he’s aged too. He only hopes that the people of Durham will value and use the shop, and that it can contribute something to the community.
Brand manager Stephanie Kelley said each Joe Van Gogh location has its own vibe. “The people really do make the space,” Kelly shares. “You want to immerse yourself in that community, in the neighborhood.”
They’ve been successful in the past. The first location opened in Chapel Hill in 1995, and Joe Van Gogh has been growing ever since. The Broad Street location in Durham recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary! Yet Roberts still considers them to be a small business. As they continue expanding with this latest project, he says the process is enjoyable but expansion is not their reason to exist. So what is?
“Good coffee,” he says. “We want to be able to provide a good living for the people who work for us and good spaces for the people who want to use us. We’re still coffee-centric and community-centric.”
Kelley anticipates the new location will be more high traffic with the Durham Co-op across the street and Grub opening next door; she says she’s excited to see how the process plays out. So far, the location is on track for its July unveiling, but no one is making any promises.
As for future expansion plans, Roberts says they never have them – these things just happen. They never want to intrude on a community or neighborhood, usually going into areas whey they feel like they have a place, where there is a need for a community hangout.
With West Chapel Hill Street’s impending opening and their recent acquisition of The Green Bean in Greensboro, Rogers says they’ll be busy for a while.
Keep track of the progress of the newest location on Joe Van Gogh’s Facebook page.
Article contributed by Leah Asmelash, editorial intern with Bites of Bull City
Photos courtesy of Joe Van Gogh