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River City Roasters looks to expand Wheaton reach despite failed Kickstarter

Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:59 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Nathan Lurz - nlurz@shawmedia.com)
River City Roasters hopes to establish its Wheaton location as the flagship for the business.

WHEATON – One of downtown Wheaton's most popular new businesses is hoping to expand its presence in the city and around the area.

River City Roasters, which opened on Main Street in December 2013, has been so successful its owners plan to make it their flagship location.

"We always see our headquarters staying in Wheaton, or we want it to be," said co-owner Tyler Fivecoat.

He and fellow owner Erich Goepel are considering closing their original Yorkville location to focus their attention on the more stable Wheaton shop. Goepel said nearby construction and other factors have caused a decline in sales in Yorkville and transitioning to Wheaton makes more financial sense.

Fivecoat said one of the cafe's founding principals – community – has made all the difference. Both their patrons and area businesses helped River City Roasters thrive during the Wheaton storefront's challenging early months.

"It's been huge – night and day from where we were," he said. "It's really exciting to be in a town that is so supportive of each other and other businesses and consumers."

The permanent move has included installing a new oven for fresh-baked goods and an attempt to use Kickstarter to raise the funds for a new, larger coffee roaster that would increase production capability and allow Wheaton customers to experience the process.

The effort didn't meet its goal by the deadline Monday night, but River City Roasters will look to find the capital in other ways, Goepel said.

"We're still working towards the coffee experience," said sales representative Aaron Hoekstra. "We want people to be a part of our roasting process. It's part of the 'coffee, connection, community' – those things are always together."

Hoekstra said the failed Kickstarter was evidence the shop needs to forge more and closer connections with surrounding patrons and businesses. He said as the brand grows in the area – both in wholesale to local grocery stores and by expanding to other locations – that will come.

Hoekstra said the cafe is also hoping to do more philanthropic work. He serves as the executive director of nonprofit Venture Corps, which helps fund sustainable business projects in east Africa.

River City Roasters would like to accompany Hoekstra on a trip to Africa later this fall to talk to locals about setting up future partnerships with coffee vendors and potential roasters. They wamt to create a Venture coffee blend to support the nonprofit.

"Small roasters growing and developing start with a buyer and as you develop and grow, you start looking for direct relationships with the growers," Hoekstra said. "Eventually, we can hopefully connect my agricultural initiatives with coffee and in the long-term support local children's ministries and other local relationships."

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If you go

What: River City Roasters

When: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday

Where: 114 N. Main St.

Information: 630-551-8346, www.rivercityroaster.com

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