Eric Tate and his daughter, Augusta Kyna Nellie Tate
Originally published in Taos News
There are many reasons why The Coffee Spot has stayed busy and successful since Eric Tate bought it in 2010.
“One of them is that we honor our name by brewing good and strong coffee,” Tate said. “We don’t skimp on it. The small espresso drink has two shots; the medium, three, and the large one, four shots.”
Another reason is availability. The Coffee Spot is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., every day.
“We will keep these hours over the winter,” Tate said. “Eventually, we plan to have the restaurant open twenty-four hours a day.”
Their high speed Internet service has also made it very popular. Since The Coffee Spot stays open after the library and other public Internet-access places close, many students do their homework there in the evenings.
“I tell them they are always welcome,” Tate said.
Tate also shows respect for his customers by not “messing around with prices.”
“The price for a drink is the price for a drink,” he said. “We don’t charge extra for a mocha latte with caramel or for using soy instead of milk.”
The Coffee Spot has always offered breakfast but since Tate took over the place, the menu has expanded into lunch and dinner.
He has also increased the offers in the baking department, selling pies, krobars (croissant-donut hybrids) and fudges, besides the regular selection of cookies and muffins.
The menu includes burritos, omelets, salads, salad wraps, and sandwiches.
The Monte Cristo
One of the most popular sandwiches is the Monte Cristo—a French toast with roasted turkey, bacon, egg, cheese and green chile, served with syrup. It has two variations—the Mini Cristo, with one choice of meat, and the Mega Cristo, with everything that the regular Monte Cristo has, plus tomato and avocado.
“The Monte Cristo is my favorite sandwich,” said Tina Miera-Gomez, who visits The Coffee Spot at least twice a week. “When I feel like indulging, I order the Mega. Such a treat!”
Fast and friendly
The Coffee Spot has sixteen employees and there are always at least two around.
“In really busy days we have four,” said Tate. “You can rely on being able to come in, go through the line and get your food quickly.”
Years ago many people ordered their food to go, but that has changed.
“Now we have customers who stay here for hours,” Tate said. “Our staff is really good at remembering people’s names and preferences so they feel very much at home.”
Kids and dogs welcome
Many children, like Tate’s daughter, Augusta Kyna Nellie Tate, and her friends Brianna Amber Lujan and Marielle Nizhoni Gomez like to spend time at The Coffee Spot after school.
“We study and play here, then we go to the park,” Gomez said. “I like this place because there are always good things to eat!”
At first Tate considered applying for a license to sell alcohol, but later he decided against it.
“Many customers have thanked me for not serving beer or wine,” he says. “This is a quiet and kid-friendly place, even at night, and people like that.”
Dogs are also welcome at The Coffee Spot. There is a fenced backyard with gates that can be shut so dogs are free to play and run inside.
“We only ask owners to pick up the dog poop,” Tate said.
A communal space
The Coffee Spot is opened to poetry readings, art classes and workshops.
Musicians get together and play in the backyard and street vendors pass by and offer their wares.
There is a consignment store in the back with jewelry, t-shirts and artwork.
The artistic cook
Food artist and cook Greg Preisch is also an accomplished painter.
He and barista Ren Geertsen started a collaborative art project together three years ago.
They have created several pieces in conjunction with other painters and clients with artistic inclinations.
“I like to have other people involved, like an art family of sorts,” Preisch said. “We are very lucky to have Eric as a boss and a friend. He has allowed us to turn the space into a little gallery as well as a great restaurant.”
There is one working project right now in a corner and anybody can contribute to it.
Preisch also made the store’s street sign and several of the paintings displayed on the walls.
“He has done a lot to create an artsy, welcoming atmosphere in the restaurant,” Tate said. “When I design the new menu, I plan to incorporate some of Greg’s work into it.”
Tate’s rules of success
Hire good employees, pay them well and train them properly.
Make sure that the inventory is always full.
Stay open when you say you will be open.
Have respect for your customers. Don’t cut corners or play tricks with prices.
Focus on the locals
Trip Advisors reviews show that The Coffee Spot is very popular among tourists but Tate makes a point of taking good care of his local clients as well.
“They are the ones who keep us busy when tourism slows down,” he said. “We have established a rewards program for them. And I have noticed that some locals come here every day, just because they love the place. We certainly appreciate their loyalty.”
The Coffee Spot offers catering on the side and some baked goods are also made to order.
“We have made wedding cakes and graduation cakes,” said Tate. “One graduation cake was particularly striking, shaped as a balloon. We bring coffee service to the businesses that want it and we also do bulk sales.”
The Coffee Spot is located at 900 Paseo Del Pueblo Norte
Phone: (575) 758-8556