Kaiteur Coffeehouse — sometimes dubbed the “Cheers of coffeehouses” for its friendly, neighborhood atmosphere — announced it will be closing after the next 30 days.
After going on their third year of being in business, owners Moose and Shealy Halley sat down with heavy hearts two weeks ago and began discussing the painful possibility of closing the coffee shop.
“It’s been a challenge from the beginning,” said Moose Halley, while fixing dinner for his two young children. “You know the first six months, the first year, is going to be challenging. So you hope beyond the first year. Then you hope beyond the second year. Well, it’s now our third year... You get to a stage you realize, we’ve got to stop at some point.”
“We found the volume just isn’t there,” explained Halley, a former financial analyst. “The folks coming through our doors... Despite the sufficient volume of folks going to work, it’s been really hard to get people to consistently come through our doors and buy our product. I don’t think it’s for lack of people knowing we’re around.”
They also had the unfortunate timing of opening right as the recession hit.
The Halleys had moved to Conyers because of its community and opened the business in February 2007 using their own personal retirement savings. Like many entrepreneurs, they poured their sweat, tears and dreams into the place.
And in many ways, it succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, serving as a safe place to form richly rewarding relationships and to foster community.
“It’s hard for me to say that it’s a failure, not just because I don’t want to say I was part of a failure, but because I know there's a value there to those relationships,” he said. Customer comments left on the website of the Christian-oriented coffeeshop attest to that, describing Kaiteur and the atmosphere the Halleys have created as a “haven of peace and comfort” and a place that had touched many lives.
“I love even the thought of having contributed to something like that,” said Halley. “A space where people can meet, and make friends with people they would pass in Publix. It means so much to me that they would come into that space and discover some commonality.”
But financially, it was a struggle. The family will be in debt for some time, which was more reason to find something that will bring in money instead, said Halley. And the physically exhausting, 12-hour days and the business struggle was having a toll.
“We sat down and talked about the impact it’s having on our family. The things we used to be able to do that we don’t get to do anymore. Like take vacations,” said Halley.
So with heavy hearts, the Halleys posted notice of their decision online after closing for the day on Saturday, sent out an e-mail Sunday evening, and posted a notice on their door Monday morning.
The shop will stay open for the next 30 days to give customers a chance to redeem any coffee cards and gift cards.
Halley said he didn’t know exactly what he'd be doing next. But he knows he and his family will be staying in Conyers and in the community.
“There’s so many things about myself I've discovered through this business. I know that's valuable somewhere else. I have a sense of optimism about what I do next. But I don't know what that is yet.”