Changes brewing at Port City Java
November 25, 2011By Jamaal E. O'Neal
If you haven’t noticed any new Port City Java locations popping up across the city, there’s a reason.
In fact, according to Steven Schnitzler, chief executive officer of Port City Java, there’s a really good reason — to focus on new services and products for a growing Port City clientele.
“We were looking to open another coffee shop when we realized that the money we would spend on opening a new location could be used to overhaul a number of our existing locations,” Schnitzler said. “And that’s what we plan to do at a number of our coffee shops.”
Wilmington area coffee addicts will soon notice some interior and product changes at a few Port City Java locations.
Port City Java, founded in 1995, operates 11 coffee shops in Wilmington. The company also has locations throughout the greater Cape Fear Region and North Carolina including, Carolina Beach, Leland, Southport, Raleigh and Greensboro.
“There is the potential for additional growth in our area and others,” Schnitzler said. “But right now our focus is giving our customers an even better experience . . . we want them to feel welcomed because we know this is a place where people work, and where people come to unwind and enjoy themselves.”
It’s a plan that seems to be working.
In October, the popular coffee shop inked two new locations at North Carolina State University’s new $120 million Talley Student Center.
Schnitzler said the new Port City Java locales would be located on the top and lower levels of the student center once construction is complete.
Port City Java currently operates six existing locations on the NCSU campus.
The company is also looking at additional sites for future locations in the Raleigh-Durham area. There are also plans to eventually reopen their former Charleston, S.C. site; however, Schnitzler said that is more of a long-term goal.
Back home, Port City Java recently completed a two-week, $94,000 remodel of its Barclay Commons location near the intersection of Independence Drive and Shipyard Boulevard. Upgrades included a new state-of-the-art Nuova Simonelli espresso machines, new cabinetry, water features and new seating.
And those aren’t the only locations slated to see changes.
Schnitzler said plans are under way to expand its Porter’s Neck location. Officials are also looking into plans to update its Brunswick Forest branch in Leland, expand the seating area at its South 17th Street location and putting down new flooring at its location in the Masonic Temple Building on Front Street in downtown Wilmington.
Many of the improvements are slated for 2012, with many of the projects wrapping up within weeks of starting, Schnitzler said.
“We’re working on a larger plan that would address all of our Wilmington area locations,” Schnitzler said. “These are just a feein-house projects we are doing to enhance our customer’s experience . . .this is just the beginning of something bigger.”
But as Port City Java ramps up its physical appearance for its Wilmington customers, the company is also increasing its local smattering of snacks for the executive, or college student, on the go.
While Port City Java will continue to offer a wide array of cookies, bagels, muffins, scones and lunch options, Schnitzler said company officials have inked one-year contracts with a number of local pastry companies.
South’n France will begin selling its gourmet chocolate bon bons at a number of Port City Java locations, including the Barclays Common coffee shop. The coffee chain will also regularly carry Nye’s Cream Sandwiches, and Chee-Ze Plea-Ze cheesecakes.
“These are proven companies with a track record of success,” Schnitzler said. “We realize that we have a customer base that not only likes to have their coffee, but they like to have their cake and eat it too . . . this was a wonderful addition to our stores, and we’re glad to have them as partners.”
But while the upgrades are beginning to pay for themselves, Schnitzler admits it’s Port City Java’s mission as a community coffee shop that keeps its customers coming back for more.
“We’ve been waking up Wilmington since 1995,” Schnitzler said. “These upgrades are a return to our coffee roots, and I think that is what our new and existing customers are going to appreciate the most.”