OPENING Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle -
In 2009 the original kick butt was growing and starting to break even. I knew I wanted another location and was looking in the Lamar corridor at what is now P. Terry's Burger and another location which is now Coffee Bean and Tea. 


A rep from the Wietzman (Cencor) who manage the triangle came to me and offered the old Flipnotics location in the triangle. (Flipnotics had gone out of business much like we just did).  I jumped at the chance's the TRIANGLE...mixed use, upscale, walkable and all that. A can't miss opportunity (so I thought).


Also it would be so much cheaper to "build-out" the old Flipnotics location). Our original Kick Butt Coffee was built from an empty shell. (See Video: click here) The original Kick Butt cost about 250k to build including furniture and equipment. Kick Butt in the triangle only ended up costing 150k to remodel including furniture and equipment (then another 150k to keep open)


The Gods were on my side. Where could any business person get 150k in the middle of "THE GREAT RECESSION"? My home of I refinanced again (i had pulled 85k out to open the first kick butt). I pulled another 100k out by refinancing...doubling my monthly payments which I will still have to pay back over the next almost 30 years.


So, on to negotiating the lease. Wietzman (Cencor) and JP Morgan Chase (the owners) would not budge on the rent... $4775 a month including the NNN, in the middle of the "Great Recession) The saving on the built out let me justify it because even though my rent at the original location was almost half I still had another 3k in monthly debt for it. I hadn't got the loan (on my house) yet for the Triangle Kick Butt but I signed the lease anyway. I borrowed 10k from my Dad to pay the deposit and first months rent and we were off!


We got our first 90 days no rent which is typical. (note: 90 days does not equal 3 months) So we had 90 days to get the place renovated and open. We did it!  If you don't know... "build outs" never happen that fast but we managed not to involve the City of Austin OR Cencor. So we opened in record time July 6th 2009.


RUNNING Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle
There were many lessons and many stories too involved to get in to here. Let's hit a couple of highlights. Most of you know that I run a hugely successful dojo (hence the name kick butt). What you may not have known is that I found Maria Courtney (who is the GM of Kick Butt) at my dojo. I met her as the parent of one of my now advanced kung fu kids. Her son had joined my Lil' Dragons program.


At the time she was hired simply as an opener at the triangle. Her experience was as a bartender but having a child meant the morning coffee biz would be a good fit. And as she says, "I needed a job." Maria rose over the next year to become the assistant manager of the triangle location and then the manager and then the manager of both kick butt coffee's. (she has an amazing work ethic, awesome customer service, makes fantastic drinks and btw is staying on as manager of the original kick butt on airport blvd.)


Since opening Kick Butt Coffee in the triangle it has grown in it's clientele and it's variety of popular events (which by the way have all been moved over to the original Kick Butt on Airport Blvd). One that shines is the Music Open Mic. MT and his wife Nancy have run what has turned into the BEST OPEN MUSIC OPEN MIC in Austin. This youtube clip is how I will remember Kick Butt Coffee in triangle: click here to watch.


CLOSING Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle
I know. This is the part you really want to hear about. Needless to say Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle never had a profitable month. BUT as long it was improving I was willing to keep having my DOJO pay for it. At a monthly loss of 8k - 12k since opening (85k loss for 2011) there were many times I considered closing. The first time was back at the end of 2009. I was shocked that we were not doing better and I took 100% of the blame and responsibility. 


I had understood that Flipnotics had closed in our spot with daily average sales of $800. I estimated when first moving in that if we could do $800 a day we would be breaking even. (I was wrong) I was told that their service was bad and product was so-so. I thought surely we could do better. We did, but it was still not enough. We finally got to their $800 average which brings a total of 24k ... this happened only once (in october 2011) and once again last month, in February 2012. Still not enough. The amount of additional time, energy, effort and money it takes to get to 24k actually created record monthly losses.


I now estimate that it would take average daily sales of $1200 to break even and with an average purchase of less than $5 we would need 240 customers a day. This is about 100 more than we had. I now learned the lesson of why Flipnotics couldn't do it and now, neither could we. Oh, and that number I just quoted is to just break even... no profit... no compensation for the owner... just to pay the bills. Why not? Customers and friends say "There is just not enough parking to support a coffee shop in the Triangle."


Thank you for your interest in hearing the story of Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle. If you would like to share some of your positive stories of times at Kick Butt Coffee in the Triangle I would love hear them.




Thomas R. Gohring

Kick Butt Coffee Music and Booze? Map (and you can review us if you like)


P.S. Please come see us at our original location. Many of the faces you have come to love are still with us. Gregory, Summer, Denver, Maria, Liz, Jace, Naiman and others. Kick Butt Coffee on Airport Blvd., the original, is not yet profitable either BUT it is really really close. 


If you love us and what we do we would love to see you. :-)







- - - - - - - - - -





Muffins Kick Butt Coffee Triangle Income and Expense Since Open  

(Green is Income ... Red is Expense)