SOUTHPORT –– Owners of Moore Street Market, a community staple and tourist favorite in Southport, have opened drive-thru windows to a new Northwest-inspired coffee hut at the corner of a popular entryway into the city.
Growing up in Oregon, Andrew Laing remembers ordering drinks at the coffee kiosks situated on every other block. He recalls the businesses were usually locally and family owned and were unique from the “corporate run” coffee shops.
“There was always something about driving up to one of these places when I was young and having that connection with the folks that work there,” Laing said. “It was part of culture out there, having all these little drive-thrus everywhere. I’m excited to bring that here.”
Southport Coffee Co. is offering a similar experience to what can be found in Laing’s hometown of Bend, Oregon, and throughout the western U.S.
“You get that fun personal connection when you place your order; then you can watch them make your drink,” Laing said. “It’s a very personal experience, and that’s the difference.”
Since Mar. 31, baristas within the blue and white house at the corner of Rob Gandy Boulevard have been pouring coffees and serving smoothies to drive-thru customers. The shop is currently operating from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Like many other small businesses, the spot is struggling to hire and is aiming to round out its staff before expanding into full-time hours, seven days a week.
Both real estate investors, Laing and wife Bridget Reichhart moved to Southport about three years ago after coming across a listing for Moore Street Market online. Though the family had never visited the seaside community before, they were seeking a lifestyle change south, as Laing was coaching tennis at Harvard and working long hours, often on the road.
Once relocated, the couple quickly noticed the places to score a “really good cup of coffee” while en route through town were nonexistent. Moore Street Market offers a full coffee menu, in addition to its deli, but sits toward the land’s edge and doesn’t feature a drive-thru, nor does the downtown Port City Java location. Other options for a cup of joe are limited to fast-food chains McDonald’s or Bojangles.
Laing said he and Reichhart were ready to jump on the chance to bring that convenience to their newfound community. Two years ago, property became available at Rob Gandy Boulevard and River Road, a corner lot heavily traveled by those heading to and from Southport, Oak Island, and the ferry terminals for Bald Head Island and Fort Fisher.
Southport Coffee Co. offers a full espresso and coffee menu with frappes, lattes, mochas and more. Prices range from $2 to $5.50 and come in 12-, 16- and 20-ounce sizes. The business orders custom roasts out of Wilmington’s Vigilant Hope Roasting, after switching from a Raleigh-based Larry’s Coffee in the past year.
“It’s great to have someone who gets us beans every couple weeks,” Laing said. “They’re super fresh. They’re local. We love that side of it.”
The menu also features sweet treats for the little ones, like a cotton candy-flavored unicorn-themed drink, hot chocolate and fresh squeezed lemonade. Fruit smoothies and flavored iced teas are listed as well.
“The whole car can get something to drink,” Laing said.
The coffee kiosk is the anchor of a newly built commercial center dubbed the “Southport Coffee Co. Commons,” also owned by the entrepreneurial couple, with five office suites and four larger spaces. Among the smaller offices, a massage therapist, mortgage broker and insurance broker are moving in.
Laing said he and Reichhart are open to more opportunities for drive-thrus, especially in Brunswick County, and are interested in diving into roasting after recently purchasing a roaster.
“I see that side of the business growing exponentially,” Laing said. He added if all goes well, they plan on converting one of their commercial units into a facility to roast beans.
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