Allison Boettcher, the founder and owner of the Blue Mountain Coffee House in West Palm Beach, Florida, gave all credit and thanks to her regular customers and tourist visitors who helped her to keep her business open despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coffee house is frequented by local coffee fanatics and tourists, especially Japanese tourists, who come to enjoy the flavorsome Jamaican coffee she provides. The beans used at Blue Mountain Coffee House originate from Boettcher’s small family coffee estate in Jamaica, and the combination of sweet flavor, bold aroma, and medium acidity of the world-famous island coffee is a major attraction for coffee lovers around the globe.
However, the restaurant faced significant threats of going under once the pandemic hit. Businesses everywhere were closing, but Boettcher hung on thanks to the Paycheck Protection Program and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund. These programs provided over $14,000 that helped pay inventory bills and retain her workforce. Boettcher noted that attracting customers represents more than a business transaction; customers often use their visits to her shop to open up about their lives and discuss issues important to them. She said that people “need to feel loved” and appreciated and that since she also has those needs, she willingly tries to uplift the visitors to her restaurant, creating a network of support that she never expected.
Boettcher realized, in the pandemic’s early stages, that children were suffering the most from the social and economic challenges being imposed on the community. Prompted by this realization, Boettcher partnered with the West Palm Beach Police Department to conduct a toy drive that brought happiness to some 100 children as a way to connect with the children in her community. The community responded by joining together to make what she described as “massive” donations.
Boettcher, who attended the 2022 State of the Union address on March 23 as a virtual guest of honor invited by Florida Congresswoman Lois Frankel, now plans to expand her coffee house business to an additional location.
Here is a conversation we had with Allison Boettcher:
Q: What is your connection to Jamaica?
Born Jamaican. My cousins and aunts still live there
Q: Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?
I’m a businessperson and entrepreneur, since opening a coffee shop is nothing new, but opening a Blue Mountain Coffee House and making differentiating distinctively is by all means entrepreneurial.
This concept has never been executed before. As a single, black female entrepreneur, it is truly impressive to be compared to Starbucks in such a short time. Reminds me of that song “You wanna play with the big boys….run kitty-kitty”
Q: What was your profession before you started your business Luxe Marketing?
Corporate Controller / Junior CFO
Q: Who or what motivated you to go into business?
My grandmother was the matriarch of the family, to whom many referred to as Ironside. My grandmother owned and operated one of the first and largest bammy businesses in Jamaica. After school, we would always assist with the business. She was my biggest role model.
Q: Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
I used all my savings to open my business and my credit cards for the initial inventory. Perhaps my learned German culture plays a major role in my spending approach. Under the motto: “I don’t spend, what I don’t have it”. Hence, I started off with a simple chalk board for my menu, baked all my pastries from scratch, and worked all shifts.
Now that I’m planning to expand, things are different. I need capital and already have a bank to back me: Valley Bank.
Q: Tell us about your business?
Embodied in our vision statement “Real Coffee, One Love, One World’, Blue Mountain Coffee House is commitment to preserving and palletizing the authentic taste of coffee, created with love, for the world to enjoy.
Blue Mountain Coffee House provides breakfast and lunch all day, such as organic pancakes, waffles, crepes, sandwiches, croissants, bagels, and artisan breads and pastries baked onsite. We also serve indigenous Jamaican breakfast and lunch.
Q: Many businesses have a moment they call their “big three break”, whether it be a news story, a big contract etc. Have you or your business had that “”big break ” yet?
My big break is simply to have survived COVID-19. In truth things have been challenging and I’ve adapted to the changes.
Q: Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
Q: Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
I genuinely enjoy meeting people from all different parts of the country, the world, cultures.
Q: What motivates you on a day to day basis?
Simply to share my dream with the rest of the world and watch it grow.
Q: How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
Just authentically share my vision, This has always worked.
Q: How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
I write a reminder and share with others, so I have a backup.
Q. What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
Initially, I used to wake up every morning at 5am, but since COVID and my change of hours, I wake up religiously every morning at 6am for woke at 8am.
Q. Do you have any hobbies?
I love singing, otherwise, I play tennis. I love house music, 70’s and 80’s reggae, and R&B.
Q. If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for you in the business sector, what would you do with yourself?
No idea…..live on my farm in Jamaica and eat coconut and plant peas and plantain. All nutritious.
Q: Seven day, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
Q: My favorite guilty pleasure is…
Eating milo & condense milk 😊
Q: My favorite Jamaican food is…
Curry goat and rice and rice & peas