The neighborhood coffee shop is an institution, a place to connect, work, refuel. If you’re the owner, it can also be a powerful catalyst for personal growth. In Brewing Beneath the Perk, author Teri Meehan has seemingly created a new genre: the small business self-help memoir. It makes for compelling reading.
When Meehan and partner Debbi Main move back to Denver after a stay in California, they buy “an adorable 1921 brick bungalow,” and Main points out a vacant storefront nearby, the former home of two failed coffee shops. She nudges Meehan to open a new shop in the space, and Wash Perk (a pun on their Washington Park neighborhood) is born.
Meehan writes with lively humor about the difficulties of managing millennial baristas, yet offers real instructive value about compassionate leadership, even when that means having to let go of a valued employee. It also hits on many of the small details that contributed to Wash Perk being a success where the prior tenants failed.
Wash Perk takes over her life, which leads to reflection on a childhood marked by trauma, abuse, and self-loathing. An avowed seeker, she balances the practical and spiritual when it comes to business, caring for her “peeps” while beginning to value herself more. If the writing meanders occasionally, the narrative propels readers onward, with stories of the shop and its fans and customers. Many reach out to lend a hand, while a few take advantage of that generosity. When Main’s health is jeopardized, Meehan must reevaluate whether to stay or train a successor to run things, knowing either path means change.
The story of a small business is generally measured in terms of success or failure, the red or the black. Brewing Beneath the Perk broadens those values to include health, friendship, love, and taking full ownership of one’s life. It’s moving, yet chock full of useful ideas on how to lead from the heart.
BlueInk Heads-Up: Just as booksellers fell in love with The King’s English for its evocation of the job and its trappings, this book should be catnip for baristas and anyone who has always dreamed of opening a cafe.
Also available in paperback.