New depot coffee shop was long time in making
A trip to the J. Douglas Galyon Depot in Greensboro a few years ago led to an idea for a business for Jeelan Jones.
She and her family were awaiting the arrival of a relative from out of town when they noticed that a certain type of business in that spot could have access to a captive audience in the form of train and bus passengers at the station.
“The kids were hungry, and there was nothing to eat there. Other major cities we had been to, it always seemed like there was a space to eat in the depot for people that had layovers,” Jones said. “There was an empty lunchroom space there that had a number on it to contact the city, so we did.”
Jones started a coffee shop, the Carolina Blues Cafe, in the space four years ago. She brought the concept to High Point last month, opening a business with the same name in the High Point Depot’s former baggage room next to the Amtrak station.
The shop serves coffee, tea, smoothies and specialty drinks, as well as light refreshments, such as bagels, croissants and muffins.
Representatives of The City Project approached Jones about locating in the space, which occasionally had been rented out for special events but was largely unused.
The hope is that the shop will help generate retail activity in a part of downtown that historically has struggled to attract business when the High Point Market is not in session.
“The city came to us. They liked what we did in Greensboro and asked if we would consider coming to High Point,” Jones said. “I like the fact that they’re trying to rebuild High Point, and we hope we can be a small part of that.”
City leaders have long sought a business tenant for the space. Their goal is for the cafe to fill a need for a coffee shop in the furniture showroom district and build on the momentum of the Ignite High Point revitalization initiative led by urban architect Andres Duany last month.
“Jeelan has the experience and willingness to invest in High Point and is the best person to make this coffee shop successful,” said City Project Executive Director Wendy Fuscoe.
Jones said the depot space was in good condition, with hardwood floors and exposed brick walls that didn’t require any restoration.
She and her husband had a lot of upfitting done to the space, including plumbing and electrical work. She said she hopes to get approval from the Guilford County Health Department to be able to serve hot dogs, either inside the shop or on a cart outside.
The Greensboro location serves these, as well as salads, nachos and other snacks. Jones said that city’s depot has more foot traffic than High Point's, with about 1,000 bus and train passengers per day, some of whom have layovers, which affords them more time to grab coffee or a bite to eat.
So far in High Point, the busiest times have been in the mornings before Amtrak trains depart. Jones said she will soon add outdoor seating and said she hopes this will help spark more attention from depot passengers, as well as nearby businesses. A grand opening event with live entertainment also is being planned.