CLEARFIELD If Pam McLaughlin doesn't know your name, she wants to.
The former franchisee, now owner of Grounds for Coffee in Clearfield, prides herself on knowing her customers and more than just their favorite drink or dessert.
"I probably have 28 or 30 people I see every single day," McLaughlin said. "I know their names. I know their kids. Their kids work for me now."
McLaughlin bought into the Grounds for Coffee franchise in 1996, after 20 years with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Ironically, it was her work with the IRS which included out-of-state travel that introduced her to the potential of a well-run coffeehouse.
"I started frequenting them when I was out of state," McLaughlin said. "I'd come home and tell my husband, 'If I had a coffee shop, I'd do this, if I had a coffee shop, I'd do that.' Finally, I guess he got sick of me talking about it. He had a really nice truck, which he sold and gave me the money. That's the money I gave the franchise."
McLaughlin said she knew what she wanted: a place where people could come for a good cup of coffee, good food, good company and a sense of community. Bringing that vision to fruition, however . . .
"I lost 30 pounds in three months," she laughed. "I quit my job at the IRS in April and opened (Grounds for Coffee) in June. I had a good job. I had vacation, you know? I was making good money, and I left it all.
"When we started, I worked 120 hours a week for about eight months. It was hard, but I just couldn't turn my back on my business."
From its corner spot in a once-foundering strip mall, McLaughlin said her staff has grown from four to seven. The mall has enlivened, she said, and business at the Clearfield Grounds for Coffee has tripled.
"When I first started, I was going to the store twice a week, buying 16 gallons of milk per week for the lattes," she said. "Now I have it delivered, 80 gallons a week. That's how much I've grown."
McLaughlin now enjoys sole ownership of the shop which, in addition to coffees, specializes in soups, sandwiches, quiche and desserts. McLaughlin said she toyed with the notion of expanding with kiosks at Iomega and at Hill Air Force Base, both financially successful but decided against it in the end.
"This is my baby, I can't leave it," she said. "I'm very, very fortunate. I know everybody's name."
And in case anyone is wondering, McLaughlin laughs, yes, there is a market to support her business in Clearfield."People ask me all the time, sometimes it's the first thing they ask me, 'Why here? Why Clearfield?' I tell them, 'You're here. You found me.' "
E-mail: [email protected]