BALLSTON SPA–One table is placed in the front of Coffee Planet in Ballston Spa–a reminder of owner Kim Tribley’s grandma Marion Tribley.
“I knew I wanted to be in the restaurant business at a very young age,” she said. “My grandma was a waitress at Hoffman’s and she let me serve coffee once to customers and I knew right away seeing how hard that lady worked that’s how hard I wanted to work.”
In August Tribley will be celebrating owning Coffee Planet for five years after purchasing it from Cliff Baum.
While Tribley’s love for the restaurant industry came from her grandma, her love of coffee comes from the days of having Stewart’s coffee with her mom and working at Bailey’s Cafe in Saratoga.
“I fell madly in love with the whole process–being a barista, the food, everything,” she said.
Tribley eventually moved on to working at Chris’ Coffee Service in Albany–which she still uses as her roaster–and was the sales representative Baum. So when she found out he was looking to retire she jumped on the opportunity to own the cafe.
“How could you pass it up?” she said. “It is in the heart of Ballston Spa.”
Now she operates the funky cafe filled with globes, a purple color scheme and coffee options with astrological names such as the Aquarius–a mocha and toffee nut blend– with her family beside her.
“Both my parents are retired and I asked them to join in so my dad works in the kitchen and my mom does by books and she also decorates the restaurant because I am not Martha Stewart but my mother is,” she said.
Tribely said her dad makes the cream cheeses, a variety that includes bacon scallion, olive pimento, sriracha bacon and honey walnut. He also does the salads–egg, tuna and chicken.
But it’s not just her parents who work at the shop but her nieces, nephews, sister-in-law and aunt too. Then also she considers the staff family too, including master barista Grace O’Connor who is often mistaken as being Tribley’s daughter–a compliment to both of them, they said.
She also credits managers Cody Lantz and Bredan Grandy
Tribley said she also couldn’t have made it through the last few years without her partner Garrett Canfield.
Tribley said she’s elated to see the cafe open for 20 years and be on her way to celebrating five years as the owner behind the counter–a five years that included working 365 days during the Covid pandemic out of the tiny ice cream window the building has.
“It was terrifying but again the community here supported me,” she said. “So I owned the businesses for a year, shut down for about two, worked out of that tiny window and came back with a vengeance. We came back and I feel like we’re better than ever.”
She’s said even with the post-pandemic trembles still occurring–inflation and a labor market shortage–the customers are still coming through the door.
“Everybody wants their egg sandwiches I guess and a nice cup of fresh coffee,” she said.
She credits some of the success of the business to making it feel like home to all her employees and customers.
“I try to make customers feel like they’re a part of this too. I value their opinions when we’re changing something.”
Tribley said she’ll be looking for those very opinions when they begin rolling out some new menu items. Although she couldn’t go into much detail about what the changes would be, she said Cody, her manager, has been exploring new sauces and other updates.
“I like to change things up every three or four years, she said. “We’ve had this menu now for about five years, so we know what works, we know what doesn’t work. I think you guys will be interested to see the next steps we take with some of the food.”
Those changes are expected to take place in August.
She said she’s not nervous about the switch up either.
“I have such support with my family, so it’s either going to make it or not and if the changes don’t work we can always go another route,” she said.
Tribley has also partnered with other local business Speckled Pig Brewery on a Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout. She hopes to continue to grow that relationship too in the new year.
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