By DAVID BORAKS
Summit Coffee Co. is in its 14th year supplying coffee and more on Main Street in downtown Davidson. All is well at the popular community gathering place, but owner Tim Helfrich and marketing manager Brian Helfrich recently decided it was time for a little sprucing up. So over the New Year’s weekend, they and their coworkers slapped on some fresh paint and rearranged the furniture. And that’s not all.
The shop has a new logo and website, new beer and wine selections, and this week will introduce a new feature: a Friday night “pub” in the rearranged upstairs. Tim’s calling it the Freckled Dog Pub, in honor of his family’s 6-year-old Australian Shepherd/Lab mix Otis, and in homage to the pubs of England he has visited often in recent years.
“We’ve been calling it a ‘refresh,’” Tim, 33, said of the New Year’s changes. “Going back to the middle of last year, we started to seize a little bit of creative momentum.”
At least part of the impetus is Brian Helfrich’s arrival at the shop, around the time of Summit’s 13th birthday last September. Brian, 26, is Tim’s brother and like Tim a Davidson College graduate. He joined the shop after four years as a managing editor of Sports Business Daily in Charlotte. He now manages the coffee shop and has been working on marketing and brand development.
Tim Helfrich came to Summit in 2003, joining founder Craig Blaney as manager and partner. Tim and his father, Tom, who lives in South Carolina, bought the shop in 2005. Summit now has nine mostly full-time employees. Tim isn’t one of them – he still works a day job, teaching AP English, coaching soccer and serving as athletic director at the private Woodlawn School, just north of Davidson. His wife, Beth Gardner Helfrich, is director of Woodlawn’s upper school.
The shop, at 128 S. Main St., still is built around coffee, though with the economy down and coffee prices rising, the Helfriches have diversified. They sell sandwiches and snacks, and beer and wine from the afternoon on. And Summit has carved out a niche as a center for local music, creating a scene in recent years that has kept Main Street alive after dark on weekends.
Tim, a 2000 Davidson College graduate and drummer, toured for several years with the band Cast Iron Filter. He plays there regularly, with Summit’s house band, Billy Jones and the Pocket. And he books lots of other local and regional musicians for Thursday to Saturday night gigs.
BIG 2012 AHEAD
The new paint job and new branding are “statements of intent” of big plans for Summit during 2012, Tim said this week.
That begins this Friday, from 5 to 9 p.m., with the first Freckled Dog Pub night. With Tim tending the wine and beer bar upstairs, they’ll be unveiling new wines and microbrews, and have food available as well. Tim said he is currently talking to local restaurants about supplying catered dinners on Freckled Dog Fridays. Davidson songwriter and guitarist Rusty Knox will provide music from 8 to 11.
The Freckled Dog Pub is an experiment, to see if Davidson can support the pub atmosphere. “I’m comfortable putting it out there and keeping flexible, to see what to serve and how to make it a pub,” Tim said.
The goal is to keep Summit a focus of community. (When DavidsonNews.net wrote about Summit’s 10th anniversary in 2008, we dubbed it “Davidson’s Living Room.”)
Last fall, Tim, Brian and their colleagues staged the first Summit Twilight 5K, a Friday evening run and music fest in downtown Davidson. And they’re planning more, with a quarterly racing series in 2012. That will include races on St. Patrick’s Day, the summer solstice, and another the end of summer.
Summit also has gotten a makeover on the web, at www.summitcoffee.com. The site has an improved music and events calendar. And they’re planning to sell coffee and merchandise – including a new line of T-shirts, hoodies and other items – in an online store.
And Tim says look for more special events, wine and beer tastings and fundraisers. It’s all part of making sure Summit remains a focal point of community in Davidson.
“For me personally, I look at this ‘refresh’ as a promise. We’re serious about staying creative and being a dynamic business,” he said.
Sept. 18, 2008, “Summit Coffee celebrates a decade of community.”
More info is available on Summit’s website, www.summitcoffee.com