Before Happy Cappuccino even opened, Matthew Robbins doubled the floor space.
Then he hired two employees and a coffee consultant who taught him not only the basics of business but also the intricacies of properly mixing a drink.
To say he’s confident would be an understatement.
On Friday, Robbins opened his Jay Street coffeehouse. He co-owns it with his wife, Victoria. But he’s the one who will be there full-time, and this is his dream come true.
“What drove me to it is being my own boss, having control of your own destiny,” he said. After 10 years at Schindler Elevator, “I wanted to leave the corporate world.”
So he quit his job this summer and spent two hard months doing construction.
He is renting the former creperie on the pedestrian walkway of Jay Street, but he needed more space. He started by knocking down a wall and absorbing the empty storefront next door.
“I haven’t worked so hard in my life, and I’m happy,” he said. “I feel great, actually.”
He’s never run a business before, but he loves independent coffeehouses. He judges them by an exacting measure: the smell of coffee must be predominant.
“There’s not sandwiches on the counter. No pizza or breakfast sandwiches laying around,” he said.
There are a few pastries at his shop — but the rest is coffee and smoothies.
“That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “I’d rather do one thing good than many things poorly.”
His other requirement for a good coffeehouse: good music, preferably live music. He plans to bring in live bands, host open mic nights at least once a week and hang local artwork on the walls. He’s already planning to join Art Night.
But mainly, he plans to work on his drinks.
“I want to make this the best place to get coffee in the Capital District. That’s my sole focus,” he said.
For now, the namesake drink is the Happy Cappy Mocha, with white chocolate, swirls of caramel, steamed milk and espresso. Prices range from $3.45 to $4.35.
He first opened the doors Friday, but his official opening is Monday. This weekend, he will have soft hours. Starting Monday, he will open on weekdays at 7 a.m. and stay open until at least 5 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, he will be open until 9 p.m. Sunday hours will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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