FREDERICKTOWN — Two artists with entrepreneurship skills and a love of coffee met about five years ago and quickly realized they shared a passion for starting a business in the village they love and make their home.
Sept. 16, the vision of co-owners Jenn Wilson and Karen Susi was realized with the opening of The Brickhouse Grind at 10 S. Main St. Far more than just a coffee shop offering drinks such as The Brickhouse Mocha (hot or frozen) — the house favorite — their business also serves as a gift shop and bakery. In addition, Wilson provides art classes for children in an inviting, classroom-sized space located behind the busy gift shop. Held once a week on Tuesdays, Wilson will expanding her art classes to Tuesdays and Thursdays when the new year begins.
More than any other motivation for Wilson and Susi in opening their business was making customers happy — enough to become return customers on a frequent basis. That means getting them to smile from the quality of their coffee, including cappuccino and espresso, and to smile even more from the quality of their customer service experience. A total of 13 employees emphasize greeting customers when they come in and on departure.
“I was tired of going to places with terrible customer service and not seeing a happy face,” Susi said. “So we do our best to do the little things here to make for a nice experience.”
“Everybody has different taste buds,” Wilson said. “If you don’t like your drink, we will make you something with your input to make it right. We go that extra step.”
Customer Jordon Wade of Fredericktown, a doctoral student proceeding toward his dissertation in crop science, said he likes the bottomless refills received on his coffee, and the good wi-fi connection at The Brickhouse Grind — in addition to the friendliness of staff members.
“One time I had to leave and was in kind of a hurry,” Wade said. “One of the employees made sure I had more coffee for the road in a to-go container. She just decided to do it without my asking.”
Part of the shop’s customer satisfaction comes from their hours of operation, Susi and Wilson said, which is also about meeting customer needs. Those hours span Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., along with Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The weekday hours are highly appreciated by commuters who travel by their business on Ohio 95, many of them Columbus-bound on their way to and from work.
Wilson and Susi receive their roasted coffee beans from the Crimson Cup, a coffee distributor out of Columbus. The Crimson Cup provided staff training, and the two co-owners can each make every type of frozen or hot coffee item sold. They also like to make food, with Susi offering, “We sell out of our pastries every day.”
Susi and Lawrence both got to know their current location when they were local artists belonging to the Brickhouse Emporium, a kind of co-op which showcased local artists’ works. When they took over the site, they added a building addition for Wilson’s art classes.
On the business side, the two — who describe themselves as opposites — handle different aspects of Brickhouse Grind operations. Susi handles much of the finances as well as the gift shop, the Facebook page and the website. Wilson runs the art classes and teaches them, while also handling most employee matters. The two also have made the shop family friendly, with Wilson’s daughters Abby and Sydney working there, as does Susi’s son, Meach — who travels to the Crimson Cup to bring back deliveries a few times a week.
The Brickhouse Grind has done so well, in such a short time, both said, that others have gotten an idea of their own. “Two people have approached us about wanting to franchise from us,” Wilson said. And who knows what could happen, if their business continues to grow.