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The Mug, Fresno – A Place for Community

IN THE August 14 ISSUE

FROM THE 2021 Articles,
andFood Fun,
andTom Sims
SECTIONS

by Tom Sims

After a few steps, I saw it, “The Mug!” More specifically, it is “The Mug Community Coffee Shop.” As I got closer, I began to wonder if this was the place my friend, Michael Edgar, had opened just before the Pandemic hit hard. One question confirmed it!

Crystal Edgars Snickerdoodles

The coffee was far from mediocre! It was sophisticated, bold, smooth, and loaded with character. The staff doubled up on me and made appropriate suggestions like this: “You just have to try Crystal Edgar’s freshly baked snickerdoodle!” I was persuaded and I am still “licking my chops” over the experience.

I found a comfortable seat. I logged onto the internet, and I started to work. Interrupting my train of thought, I decided to scribble a note to Michael, who, along with his wife, conceived of and opened this oasis. Within a few minutes, I received a text, “Pastor Tom, are you at my shop right now?” Before I could read it, Michael walked in the door and sat down with me for about an hour.

We talked about his vision for something more than just a coffee shop and a successful business. He is building a community place in the “Third Place” tradition. Part of that is reflected in the decor, the arrangement of furniture, plans for future expansion, and convenience of the location for community meetings, drop in gatherings, and workspace for regulars. There is a corner for entertainment and there is local art posted on the walls, especially that of artist, A.S. Angelo. Expansion plans include more food, more hours, and more space for community to happen.

How did the Edgars survive the Pandemic?

Part of it was an adaptable business plan built upon years of real-world experience in marketing and business development. Part of it was the willingness to adjust to safely meet the needs of customers by thinking outside of boxes. Catering helped. Also, recruiting a training a staff who could buy into the company’s values of service, friendliness, enthusiasm, and excellence, set The Mug apart. As a result, it has become to gathering place for many local notables, a destination in itself.

On any given day, there are meetings, studies, drop-ins, and take-outs. During my time there, Michael called every regular by name, as did the staff, personally prepared one customer’s favorite drink before she asked, and introduced me to several people he felt might share common interests with me. Mentors and partners have meant a great deal to Michael’s success.

Michael and Crystal

Zack Follet is another mentor and partner. Zack opened the very successful and expanding Cup of Joy, whose first location is in Clovis, in 2012. A few months later, I told his story in Kings River Life. Zack visited Michael early in the process and said, “Brother, we’re not competitors. Anything I know, I am willing to share with you.” He made good on his word and that led to strategic partnership where Zack’s roasting business provides a proprietary blend for The Mug under The Mug’s label. This model to find a way for businesses to cooperate and add value to each other is a great example to the community that both companies choose to serve.

Jerry Yang, another mentor, is proprietor of Shobu. I am overdue for lunch with Jerry, however, I have tasted his award-winning sushi a number of times. After many years in the restaurant business in Merced, he opened Shobu here, also, before the Pandemic, to serve the insatiable appetite of Fresnans for superior sushi. With Jerry primarily as mentor, both of these former students of mine put their heads together and added value to each other’s businesses.

Crystal and staff

They continue to do so.

Jerry’s story is going to take a little longer to tell. It has many twists and turns. My review of him will come in a couple of months.

The Mug has plans for some significant growth and reopened Monday morning last week after a brief closure for some remodeling, celebrating with an amazing pound cake.

Michael and Crystal are filling a niche that exists in every neighborhood, a place for good conversation, good coffee, simple and elegant foods, and friendship with a strong internet signal. In short, we need places to gather for community! The bonus is they are creating some business models that can serve as lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs, and Michael, who has benefited from the mentoring of others, is generous about sharing what he knows with them as well.

The Mug Community Coffee Shop, Inc.
1137 E Champlain Dr, Fresno, CA 93720, USA
Open Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Order online at: order.online/store/TheMugCommunityCoffeeShopInc-946825/en-US/
Engage on Facebook at: facebook.com/themugfresno/

Tom Sims is a local pastor (and Grandpa!), writer, and blogger. Pastor Tom Sims spends time pastoring Granny’s Park Community church, leading 4141 Ministries with his wife, Andrea Sims, writing, teaching, and hosting various websites, blogs The Dream Factory where Ideas can be given room to grow, and Facebook pages such as The Politics of Compassion. You can also find him on Facebook.

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