Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:24 pm
Milwaukee-based Stone Creek Coffee has announced it will expand to Madison, opening a new café about a mile from Capitol Square by the end of the year, and also move into the Chicago market by 2018.
The Madison location will be at the corner of East Washington Avenue and North Few Street in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood of Madison. Similar to Stone Creek’s Factory Café headquarters at 522 N. Fifth St. in Milwaukee, the café will also have a training lab where classes will be offered both to wholesale partners and the public.
Stone Creek plans to open its first Chicago café by August 2018, said Drew Pond, director of team development at Stone Creek.
“The potential for Chicago is pretty vast,” Pond said. “Feasibly…for a roaster like us, you could open as many as 20. We’re not shooting for 20.”
The company hasn’t yet determined how many cafes it will open in either Madison or Chicago, but plans to do so without incurring a large amount of debt. This was the first opportunity Stone Creek had in terms of infrastructure and business health to consider a move like expanding to another market, Pond said.
“As a business evolves, its capacity fluctuates from time to time,” he said. “You have to learn how to build the business to be sustainable as it exists today and then be able to grow and expand to what you envision for the future.”
Increasing its size will have an impact on its presence in Wisconsin and allow Stone Creek to access a wider array of origin producers, Pond said.
“There comes a point also as a business develops when you have to kind of decide: Is this going to continue to be a thing that’s limited to the founders and limited to what Eric (Resch, co-founder) started 22 years ago as a small coffee roaster that is just here, or should we be thinking on a bigger scale?” he said.
Because of their proximity and the opportunity in those markets, Madison and Chicago were natural next steps in Stone Creek’s growth, Pond said.
“Chicago is pretty well-known for coffee, particularly Intelligentsia is a big name there, and people get the sense that it’s saturated in terms of coffee roasters, but it’s not because it’s so big,” he said.
Stone Creek also recently announced plans to open a second café in Wauwatosa in early 2017.
“We do plan to open more stores in the Milwaukee area within the next few years,” he said.
There are plenty of opportunities for new cafes in the Milwaukee area, Pond said. There are some oversaturated neighborhoods, like the Third Ward, but also underserved areas such as West Allis, New Berlin and Oak Creek.
“If we just aim for what’s hip, the hip neighborhoods, that leaves a lot of coffee people unserved,” Pond said.
Stone Creek isn’t the only coffee retailer with growth in mind. Milwaukee-based Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. last month said it plans to open its fourth location in Wauwatosa’s Village.
And Milwaukee-based Colectivo Coffee, in June received a permit for a new café in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, its first out-of-state location.