OCEAN PINES – Looking around the recently-opened Java Bay Cafe at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club it is immediately apparent that Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson is right to be proud of his team’s accomplishment in the facility’s new concept and operation.
The experience is improved just inside the Yacht Club entrance where visitors are treated to the aroma of fresh-brewed coffee even before coming upon the various breads and pastries in the clear service case.
Thompson said the plan, from the beginning, was to make sure the cafe was unique to Ocean Pines but also to make it more complimentary than competitive. The notion was to do a few things really well and fill a niche in the community.
Although the extensive menu includes fresh pastries and salads, the master stroke was contracting with “A Bagel And…” in Manklin Station to provide the shop’s bagels rather than compete with them.
The other critical and difficult part of putting together the coffee shop menu was finding the right coffee to serve. Thompson and food and beverage manager Joe Reinhart elected to go with Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co. coffees as much for quality reasons as because of the regional company’s support of environmental programs.
To go with the superior coffee, the OPA invested in a state of the art coffee maker that grinds the beans just prior to brewing them, making the coffee as fresh as possible.
While the menu improvements inherent with the change are significant, the changes to the interior represent the best opportunity to tap into the market that have proven elusive to association management for years. While providing better service is obviously a critical part of the revamp, the new look is a critical outward sign that things at the Yacht Club are changing.
What used to be the right hand side of the dining room has a fresh coat of paint and the lighting has been adjusted to fit a warmer, more personal atmosphere, but the walls might be the least of the aesthetic improvements.
The plan is to establish the Java Bay Cafe as a gathering place in Ocean Pines. To that end, in addition to having fast, free WiFi throughout the Java Bay Cafe, the OPA invested in comfortable chairs and sofas to make the place more inviting and encourage dawdling.
The comfort factor is to be the cafe’s biggest selling point. By making sure the food is not only good but also consistent the staff is able to concentrate more on making people feel as if they’re welcome, which is something Thompson said will go a long way to getting returning customers.
Java Bay Cafe barista Kelly McMullen said she was particularly excited about the new opportunities the coffee house setting will provide for both employees and the general public. McMullen was already a food and beverage employee but had extensive barista experience, which is how she became an integral part of running the new cafe.
The rest of the staff is equally enthusiastic about running the new facility, which is already starting to draw people from the community in to see what the fuss is all about.