Jimmy Duran stepped into Little Jimmie's Bakery and Cafe in Mt. Airy one day on his way to pick his daughter up from school, intrigued by the bakery with which he shared a name.
Duran runs a coffee-exporting business and was looking for clients to sell wholesale to. He starting chatting with Jimmie Reed, owner of Little Jimmie's, and offered up a deal: Just try brewing one shipment of his coffee. If Reed or his customers didn't like it, no harm done.
Reed agreed, and within a week, Duran heard back from him. Not only did Reed like the coffee, he wanted to take the deal one step further. Reed became the exclusive Philadelphia seller of Duran's coffee, sourced from the Dominican Republic.
Duran, an East Falls resident, continued to pop into Little Jimmie's when he was passing by. One day, Reed mentioned a property he had his eyes on: 26 Maplewood Mall in Germantown.
A second location
"I had noticed the size and the look of it," said Reed. "Knowing what the future is going to hold for Germantown, and knowing what the future holds on that mall, I wanted to be part of it."
Intrigued, Duran went by the property later that day and, eventually, placed an offer on the storefont. With Reed as the tenant, Little Jimmie's Coffee Roasters is set to open on Maplewood Mall on Valentine's Day.
The shop will seat 47 patrons, roast coffee on-site and sell baked goods brought in from Reed's soon-to-open wholesale baking production on Germantown Avenue, as well as a few savory items.
A place to 'meet and greet'
Reed and Duran's business plan hasn't gone without some skepticism from the community, however.
"I really got some discouragement from others in business, but I am looking past that," said Reed, who estimated that 30 to 35 percent of the customers at his Mt. Airy location come to him from Germantown.
"My Germantown customers have been begging for a place where they can meet and greet," Reed said. "They want choices. They want options."
Once open, the cafe will be in business from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. The cafe will have five or six employees that Reed plans to hire from the Germantown community.
"Anything that takes away an empty storefront on Maplewood Mall is a big plus," said Andrew Trackman, president of the Germantown United CDC board, a group that is involved in the revitalization of the commerical strip. "It will bring more foot traffic, which will also spill off to the other businesses."
While Durand hopes to begin importing roasts from Brazil, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Peru and Costa Rica, for now, he's focusing his efforts on building a good relationship with the farmers he works with in the Dominican Republic, from where his family hails.
The pair plans to take a trip in the spring to visit the farms where the coffee is grown. They said they will donate five percent of coffee sales at the new location to the farmers' children.
It's an idea that adds to the pair's sense of commitment to the community.
"I was never allowed to lose track of where I came from," said Duran, "and now I have the chance to contribute and be part of a new community."