Monday, March 16, 2009

A Conservative Cafe

There’s nothing new about theme restaurants but here’s one that got my attention. Over a year ago a new restaurant opened in Crown Point Indiana called the Conservative Café. Their slogan is “Coffee Served Right”.

From their website:

“Since its rise in popularity during the 1960’s, coffeehouses have evolved into havens for liberal ideas and decaying social values. Beatniks are now Generation Xers living on their parents credit cards, while berets and poetry have been replaced by Crocks and iPods. In general, people use these places to gather, waste time, and wait for their expected entitlement. It was in direct response to this image that Dave Beckham created a vision for a coffeehouse that would reflect the true American values of industry, family, and purposefulness. His vision was realized with the opening of A Conservative Cafe in September of 2007.”

The Conservative Café made local and national news not long after opening. Their website has links documenting the huge amount of free publicity they have received from local newspapers, talk radio and the ChiTrib along with trade publications and Inc. Magazine. Neil Cavuto from FOX News did a national business report on it as well.

A while back I met my brother at the Conservative Cafe. It became our point of destination because we both read about this new establishment in the local newspaper again that day. We were so impressed with this concept we had to make a special trip to give it a try. We were not disappointed.

The newly built structure looks like a traditional town with red brick, limestone appointments and thick hardwood doors where a NRA Life Member sticker was proudly displayed. Once inside there were tin ceilings, hardwood floors and traditional iron overhead fixtures. It felt good walking in to a place where we would probably encounter like-minded people.

Once inside there was a stock market ticker over the counter area and merchandise for sale like t-shirts bearing conservative images and slogans along with caps, cups, mugs, etc..

On the walls are autographed photos from conservative media personalities, old politicians and sports notables including one from Roger Staubach showing him throwing a football in Vietnam. They display posters commemorating the American work ethic, the American military and other patriotic graphics. There’s a fireplace with a sofa and lounge chairs and a library of conservative books from Ann to Rush, Milton F. to William F. just to name a few. Over the fireplace is a framed original Bull Moose Party flag.

All televisions are tuned to FOX News but they will tune to big sporting events on occasion. It’s not a sports bar but they do serve beer, wine and liquor. this is understated with line items on the menuboard but no commercial big brewing company signage. It’s not a tavern.

So the ambience is comfortable but what about the food? It’s mostly toasted sandwiches wraps, salads and soups, nothing grilled. I would rate the food quality and price value as good if not better than Panera Bread, quite a few notches above Quiznos or Potbelly and way better than a Jimmy John or Subway.

I ordered a sub sandwich and while it was not an authentic Italian sub it was very good, served with kettle cooked chips and dill pickle. I also ordered the chili, which had beans so it wasn’t real chili to me but it was tasty. The food passed my test for a return trip. Repeat business is essential for any small business establishment even in a good economy.

Then there’s the brewed coffee. They serve four types of brewed coffee, get this:

-Liberal Blend, a Columbian decaf with no substance
-Moderate Blend, Guatemalan coffee
-Conservative Blend, Kenyan, more robust
-Radical Right, Strong Sumatran for a powerful jolt of cafinated whupass

I ordered Conservative Blend and it was every bit as good as what Starbucks offers at a very competitive price. They also serve espresso, mochas, cappuccino and lattes for the kids.

In the general store area you can purchase a bag of the different whole coffee beans they offer along with conservative wearables. I love these, they’re similar to shirts you see for sale on the internets. My favorite t-shirt is the image of Uncle Sam with the words “ZIP IT HIPPIE!”

While dining, a gentleman with a logo cap on came over to our table to check if we were satisfied. I asked if he was the manager. It was one of the partners, Dave. He was loaded with energy (or maybe caffeine). He sat down and we all spoke for quite a while. He’s a passionate conservative guy who envisioned a unique café concept. It’s good to know someone is fighting back on the culture war at the retail level. Dave is genuine American entrepreneur and it makes me proud to see what he’s doing. This enterprise took a lot of guts.

In an era where political correctness dictates how a business should present itself it’s refreshing to see one that proudly builds its brand on traditional values and Americana. It’s hardly offensive and you will not find the words “republican” or “democrat” anywhere on the premises. There are no campaign signs or images of elected officials. What is obvious is that they openly believe in conservative capitalism and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As Dave explained, many businesses fail to cater to a mass audience and succeed. Think beauty salons and barbershops for instance. He tells of customers making the trip from a hundred miles away because they heard about them in the news.

I wish there was a Conservative Café in Valparaiso. I would be a very regular customer. They are going to offer franchises soon. Who knows, maybe there will be one here in Valpo some day.


Dan from Madison said...

Very cool! I like the fact that the owner detaches conservatism from the Republican party. The guy knows what he is talking about.

DBeckham said...

Thanks guys for the kind words and understanding what I am trying to do. David Beckham