A cool distance

The decision made by the owners of the neighborhood coffee shop Waycup Coffee in Tel Aviv to open a second branch in the southern part of the city was surprising yet logical.

(FROM RIGHT) Asaf Granitzi, Ofir Ben Harush and Israel Bar Levy: ‘We know most of our customers by their first name.’ (photo credit: GERSON JOHN KORONDO)
(FROM RIGHT) Asaf Granitzi, Ofir Ben Harush and Israel Bar Levy: ‘We know most of our customers by their first name.’
(photo credit: GERSON JOHN KORONDO)
Only 10 months after they opened their successful neighborhood coffee shop Waycup Coffee on Yochnan Hasandlar St. adjacent to Shenkin garden in the center of Tel Aviv, the young partners – Israel Bar Levy, Ofir Ben Harush and Asaf Granitzi – decided to take advantage of the positive momentum and open up an additional branch, their second location, which is also located in Tel Aviv. But in contrast to their first branch, which they opened in the heart of a veteran in-demand and effervescent residential neighborhood that has known countless mythological coffee establishments since its early days, the threesome decided to open their new branch a stone’s throw away from there, on Mikveh Yisrael St. – an area characterized mostly by office and commercial buildings and small businesses with few residential buildings and neighbors in the vicinity. 
“The opening of our second branch, I define as a good long-term decision,” explains Bar Levy, 37, about the logic behind the double risk he took with his friends “In a few years, one of the more crowded light rail stations will operate in the area and this whole area will be beautiful and filled with passersby who will want to drink excellent coffee in the morning in a great atmosphere. They have started to build a few large residential buildings in the area; when people start moving in, these residents will already have a place to sit and drink their daily coffee – with us. So you can basically say that we opened a neighborhood coffee shop except that we got here before the neighborhood.”
What makes your coffee shops stand out from the abundant competition around you? 
First of all, we serve and sell 20 types of coffee that we roast ourselves; you can choose either to enjoy it sitting down or as takeaway. We buy green coffee beans and in each branch we have a top-quality roasting machine, so our coffee is the freshest. 
Not too long ago, our branch on Yocahnan Hasandlar St. in the heart of Tel Aviv was chosen by a local magazine as one of the best coffee houses in the heart of Tel Aviv. Beyond this, when Asaf, Ofir and I decided to work together, it was clear to us that the first thing we would sell at our coffee shop would be a good, homey atmosphere with an emphasis on service – and this works because it is important to people. We know the majority of our customers on a first-name basis and each and every one of them gets personalized attention, a smile and a wink. When a veteran client comes in, he doesn’t need to say anything. We already know what he or she likes to drink and eat – and we serve it to him or her. More than once, when we opened our door early in the morning, around 6:15 a.m., we already have clients waiting for us by the door and they sometimes even help us set up the chairs.
How is the work load divided among the three of you? 
Both Asaf and Ofir opened and managed coffee houses in Israel and abroad, so our starting point included having accumulated experience in how to run and maintain coffee shops. Generally speaking, Ofir is responsible for the coffee, Asaf is responsible for what is called “back office,” meaning the different payments, salaries and taking care of municipal licenses, and I am responsible for the more technical aspects – purchasing and servicing the equipment as well as maintenance of the branches. But since we are a small, growing business, the three of us work in the business, take shifts and do whatever we can, including serving coffee and cleaning. A client who walks in for the first time and sees what we do would not even fathom that we own the place.
It can be viewed as a type of constraint that characterizes small businesses in the industry. 
For sure. In a small business, anything that changes is immediately felt - whether it is an air conditioner that needs to be replaced or new chairs that need to be bought. Everything is calculated down to the millimeter, including properly managing the daily inventory of the cakes and sandwiches. In general, when you are a small business and the toilet suddenly gets clogged, you know that the amount of money you will need to spend on a plumber will wipe out nearly all of your profit at a particular branch. That’s why we do many things by ourselves, including renovations and repairs. 
We also employ a small working staff of roughly 15 people, so that if some of them are sick or have exams, then any one of us three can leave everything and work from morning till evening at that particular branch. It has its advantages but also its disadvantages, because in a certain way it prevents us from growing and does not allow us to deal with more important things that pertain to promoting our chain.
Where to now? 
We constantly receive offers to cooperate, as well as franchise requests, but we are not really in a hurry. It is true that both of our branches are doing well, but there are still growing pains. For a third branch, we would need to make more coffee, employ more workers and invest more money and it is not a simple matter. So we will sit down and think, and I believe that at the end of the day we will make the most appropriate decision in terms of the pace of growth that suits us best.