A dream 10 years in the making, The Grind will open this spring on Oak Street providing not only a regular commercial coffee shop in California, but a cozy place for out-of-office work space or group gatherings.
Chelsea McGill already identified the downtown space she wanted and started making serious plans to open the location she sees as a "need" in California before the Moniteau County Regional Development board introduced its first-time LaunchU.
For six weeks this winter, McGill went through the training and preparation to launch a successful entrepreneurial venture. And, at the end, she was rewarded with second place in the "pitch" competition, providing her with additional resources to grow her business.
"I was done dreaming and hoping and wishing; I finally decided to pull the trigger," she said. "I see a need so big in this community; this is a way to give by offering space for people to come together."
The greatest benefit of the LaunchU training was building a detailed business plan, McGill said. And, the program's support did not end at graduation, but continues for the next two years.
Days after LaunchU ended, McGill set up a Facebook page for the business and within 24 hours, she had more than 500 "likes." She said she has appreciated the outpouring of support.
The process has been a sacrifice. She said she understands why some people don't follow through on their dreams.
But, she is optimistic that the work MRED is doing will help other entrepreneurs move forward and will help grow the community overall.
For more than 20 years, McGill and her husband, Alex, who was born and reared in California, have been active in the community. During that time, she said she continued to see a need for a specialty coffee shop closer than Jefferson City and need for a gathering space for community groups and people who work from home.
As a work-from-home mom, McGill said she herself would drive the 20 minutes to the nearest coffee shop to get away from the domestic chores and focus on her work.
"I'm the type of person who solves problems," she said. "My big vision is to give back to the community."
She started thinking about The Grind ten years ago. By June, McGill hopes it becomes a reality.
She's still working on the menu, but expects to also serve fresh-fruit smoothies and locally-baked goods, alongside the Jefferson City-based Three Story Coffee.
In the future, she would like to add soups and sandwiches to the menu. And, she will continue to listen to the community for suggestions, she said.
For the moment, they will be improving the lighting and flooring in the 1,600-square-feet space and developing an initial menu with private taste tests.
In what is now an empty retail space from front door to back, she envisions a cozy-industrial feel, where people can gather for Bible studies, committee meetings or friendly conversation. There will be plenty of IT-friendly spaces. And, at least one night each month, she plans to hold an acoustic music and dessert night.
"We'll have plenty of plug-ins and comfortable seating," she said. "Basically, it's more than a coffee shop; that's why it's called The Grind."