Jason Mercado, the only barista at Mugshots Coffeehouse on the 1500 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue, continues to serve freshly-brewed coffee and baked goods even as the coffee shop is up for sale on Craigslist for $65,000.
The coffeehouse was opened in October 2011 in the lobby of the Beech Interplex student residences as a local alternative to Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and 7-Eleven. A year later, Mugshots’ owner Angela Vendetti decided it was time to hand over the keys.
“This coffee shop has been slow,” Vendetti said. “It’s not making the sales it is supposed to be making.”
Vendetti said she will focus more on Mugshots’ other two locations, in Brewerytown and Fairmount, given that she said the stores are more profitable and employ more people.
“I cannot allow the Cecil B. Moore [Avenue] location to drag down the financial stability of these two other coffee shops,” Vendetti said. “I don’t have the energy or the time to develop it, it needs a new operator that can invest himself in it.”
Mercado attributed the business slowdown to its minimal presence on campus and the confusion brought by its location in a dormitory setting.
“Some people may not know we are open to the public,” Mercado said. “Many people have asked if the coffee shop is only open for dorm students.”
Vendetti said she has received two serious inquiries about her Craigslist’s post. While one of the interested buyers intends to convert the business into a gyro shop, another wants to keep it as Mugshots and also have the Fairmount location as its seller of baked goods.
“It is a great opportunity for someone who wants to start a business with minimum start-up costs,” Vendetti said. “Plus, all legal documents are up to date and I’ll also be here through the end of the year providing training and assistance.”
If the business is to remain a coffee shop, there are several things the new owner must take into account, Mercado said.
“This is not an investment, the place requires time and energy and personal dedication,” Mercado said. “Promotion is key.”
Vendetti expressed confidence in the future of the business. More and more people are developing a taste for quality coffee and relationships as the neighborhood develops, Vendetti said.
She added that Mercado will be moved to the Fairmount location once the coffee shop is purchased and that none of her employees will be laid off.
Ben Chera, a senior economics major and volunteer with the Sustainable Business Network, said the sale is unfortunate given Mugshots’ participation in SBN.
“Mugshots is a local business who is dedicated to supporting the local community. They support local farmers whenever possible,” Chera said. “All of this in comparison to Starbucks who has a huge foundation and a pretty broad and unfocused mission.”
“Locally owned businesses give more back to the community,” Vendetti said. “I hope the message gets out so that we can see the community thrive.”
Chera said that some Temple students are very passionate about supporting local businesses while others are controlled by the big brand corporations.
“It is difficult for local businesses to thrive in the Temple area because local people may not want to support something that they don’t understand,” Chera said. “Whereas, they understand the big brands more easily.”
Mugshots will remain open until a sale is definitive. In a last effort to increase visibility and sales, the coffee shop will now open its doors from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Laura Ordonez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.