Coffee shop, wine bar (even ice cream) head downtown
August 9, 2007
In San Francisco, the cost of owning a coffee shop is far greater than the profits earned once opened.
So when Albert Barneto moved to Wake Forest and met with Bob and Elizabeth Johnson, he saw his opportunity to open a profitable coffee shop and took it.
The Johnsons purchased the downtown building at 156 and 158 S. White St. in early July.
When they met with Barneto, who had done consulting work for The Cotton Company, owned by the Johnsons, he mentioned opening a coffee shop. Then Bob Johnson suggested a wine bar.
So by the end of September, Barneto plans to have a coffee and ice cream shop downstairs at 156 S. White St., with a wine bar in the works for the upstairs of the building.
“I believe he’ll do a good job,” Bob Johnson said about his new tenant.
For 15 years Barneto has worked in the restaurant business.
In California, he owned a KFC, and he loved the interaction with his customers and staff.
“When I moved here, I wanted to do something different,” Barneto said.
But after owning a customer service consulting company, Barneto missed dealing with the actual customers.
“When The Well left, I saw an opening that needed to be filled,” Barneto said of the coffee shop that vacated downtown in May.
“I’ve always wanted a coffee shop, and a wine bar just seems to fit in downtown Wake Forest,” he said. “It’ll be a good place to go after dinner or after work to relax.”
For the downstairs coffee and ice cream shop, Barneto is working on getting Edy’s Ice Cream into the freezer cases. There will also be a deli case with pastries and other desserts to accompany the beverages.
On the other side of the deli case will be the barista station where a Seattle-blend coffee will be brewed in a light, dark and decaf variety.
Barneto said the shop will offer smoothies, Chai, teas — everything.
“Frappe this and frappe that,” he said. “If it looks cool and has whipped cream, we’ll probably have it.”
Barneto said he will also likely change the menu seasonally.
As for accommodating customers, there will be plenty of seating, and in the front right corner of the store, there will be room for performances and a fireplace.
According to the town’s streetscape plan, the sidewalks in front of the coffee shop will be expanded and a fountain is planned for phase two, so Barneto plans on outdoor seating as well.
Upstairs, where the wine bar is planned, the walls are brick and the hardwood floors have years of history burned into them.
“I will keep the burn marks in the floor and just refinish it, and maybe caulk the bricks,” Barneto said. “There’s a lot of history here.”
The upstairs of 156 S. White St. was once home to an upholstery shop.
Through the years, the downstairs has been a coffee bar, a bookstore and an antique store.
158 S. White St., which now holds Solid Sounds, was once a part of 156. The two storefronts are separated by only a wall.
When the building was still one shop, it was home to Western Auto.
Barneto said the building’s history is what intrigued him most.
He said the coffee shop will be a fun place and will offer something for everyone.
And unlike other businesses in town, Barneto’s coffee shop will remain open seven days a week.
“With art studios that are open, we’ll get the church day crowd,” Barneto said.
Alcohol will only be served upstairs during the evenings, so coffee drinkers can take their drinks to the top floor during the day.
On Sundays, Barneto would like to turn the upstairs into a venue for musical performers.
“We’re going to have passion and service,” Barneto said. “You’ll be thanked and welcomed every time you come in. It will be a very customer-oriented environment. It’ll have personality, and we’ll be a part of the community. It will be a place where friends meet friends.”
Barneto hopes to have the shop open by the end of September. But he wants the grand openings to be in October, timed with Halloween.
Thank You to the Wake Weekly.