Makeda & Mingus Cafe is a community nook of a cafe in the Phinney Ridge - Greenwood neighborhood of North Seattle. As the first home of Seven Coffee Roasters, Prashanthi Reddy took over the spot almost a decade ago and renamed it Makeda Coffee.
In 2015 Prashanthi reinvented her shop as Makeda & Mingus Cafe, a tribute to Mingus, her five-year-old Rat Terrier pup and official shop greeter. Seattle Eater published an article on the change here.
(photo outside of Makeda & Mingus - courtesy of @Makeda.And.Mingus)
We sat down with Prashanthi to take a look at what it's like to own a small business and a cafe for 10 years, no small feat in and of itself:
Sean: Hi Prash, can you give us a brief history of your shop? When did you open, what made you decide on the concept, How did you choose the name, etc.
Prashanthi: We opened June 1, 2008. Makeda is another name for Queen of Sheba. Queen Makeda was the Queen of Ethiopia, thought to be the origin of coffee. I chose to own a coffee shop because while I was going to college in the 90's and while everyone else was socializing in bars and clubs, I hung out in coffee shops. I wanted to provide a similar type of community with Makeda.
Sean: What did you do before opening up your shop? I think a lot of people get curious as to the circumstances of opening up a small business and want to understand the mindset and process of going from an employee to self-employed. Can you speak on that process?
Prashanthi: I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 10 years prior to opening Makeda. I enjoy creating and making coffee. I also treasure the different types of personalities that walk through my door on a daily basis. They've become like family to me and I value that community far greater than anything I've experienced in the pharmaceutical industry.
Sean: Hows’ it going so far? How are you handling the balance between work and personal time?
Prashanthi: Well, it's up to me to schedule personal time. The decision becomes do I hire it out vs. do it myself. It's a balance of "can I afford it?" and how much time do I want. It's a learning experience for sure.
(photo of the Makeda Humpty Hump - courtesy of @Makeda.And.Mingus)
Sean: Do you have any recommendations to someone thinking about becoming self-employed? Any small business life lessons that you can pass on to a younger version of yourself?
Prashanthi: Talk to other small business owners before taking the plunge. Consider taking a business class or two - lessons in Accounting or Marketing can be a big advantage. Look, we all have a dream as business owners, mine is making coffee and being a part of a small close-knit community. The reality is that you'll need to master many other tasks and skills that have nothing to do with your passion.
Sean: What are your biggest challenges right now as a small business?
Prashanthi: Staffing. Because of our smaller shop, our employees must be able to multi-task. Making great coffee while interacting with customers in an authentic, efficient manner is a must. It's difficult finding barista that can do both well.
Sean: How can we follow your business? Website, social media, email, contact info?
(photo of the sunrise from Makeda & Mingus Cafe - courtesy of @Makeda.And.Mingus)
Unlabeled photos courtesy of Sandra Coan Photography.