For Andy Fuchtman it’s still hard to believe that the simple question “Do you like coffee?” has completely changed his life. That’s what Brent Dahlstrom asked him in late 2012 when he was looking for a partner to launch a coffee shop on College Hill in Cedar Falls. After months of planning, the idea came to fruition in November 2013 when the two opened Sidecar Coffee along with their friend Jed Vander Zanden.
How did Sidecar Coffee get started?
I guess you can say that it all started with Jed when he decided to quit his job to pursue coffee roasting. He ended up renting a space from Brent, who had just bought the long-empty lot on College Hill that used to house a live music venue and bar called Stebs. Brent had recently seen results of a neighborhood survey conducted by the College Hill Partnership that revealed most residents were longing for a local coffee shop, and that’s when the light bulb went off. He called me and the rest is history!
For those of us who haven’t visited Sidecar Coffee, how would you describe it?
We’re a quality-focused café that takes some of the world’s best coffee beans, roasts them to perfection, and brews them with care and craft. Jed is great at roasting coffee. You don’t have to be a coffee snob to notice the difference in the coffee.
We also offer tea, soups and sandwiches, beer and items from a local bakery. The vast majority of the items in our shop are produced within five miles of our front door.
What has it been like owning your own business?
Going into this, none of us had any experience in this industry. Typically, most people will tell you that it will be a disaster if you go into business not having any experience in the industry. But things have been going very well. I spent lots of time preparing and learning from other entrepreneurs and coffee shop owners in the area, including Brewed Café in Cedar Rapids. We also have a tremendous staff without whom we wouldn’t be able to do this. We learn an awful lot every single day!
What do you like about banking with MidWestOne?
We got our business loan through MidWestOne and they’ve been a huge supporter. In the first few weeks when we were too busy to go to the bank, our banker Philip Bash would stop by and bring change. He’s been a lot of fun to have on board.