Bella Bean Coffee is where you go to meet up with people! I’ve had three Visit Woodland interviews, met with a friend, and had a regular meeting there…just over the last six weeks. On the corner of Third and Main Streets, Bella Bean is perfectly set up for these meet ups or if you just need a place to chill for a bit. If you haven’t stopped by, you should. Give our hometown coffee shop a chance.
Bella Bean Coffee
729 Main Street
What is your name and what’s your business?
My name is Tawnya Galeazzi and the business name is Bella Bean Coffee. We took over what was Common Grounds on August 24th.
How long had you been thinking about opening a coffee shop and how did you know Common Grounds was available?
I’ve wanted to open a business on Main Street for years. I saw what the recession did to Main Street, tt was very disappointing. But I have a big vision – just like a lot of the developers that are currently restoring some of the buildings on Main Street – a big vision to actually have it be something, and to be involved, and to get more businesses to come and fill in the empty holes because they’re so many empty, vacant spaces. I wanted to buy a building and look for a few years looking but it just didn’t work out. They need a lot of work, and that’s not my specialty. I don’t know how to do building restoration. And so I decided I would buy a business that’s already here. And so I kind of had a handful of businesses that I thought, “if it ever came up to be for sale that I would be interested.”
We were on a ski trip, it was right after Christmas last year. I had a terrible cold, I wasn’t feeling well and I was just scrolling through businesses for sale, and saw one for “a Yolo Coffee Shop”. I’m like, “Huh. That looks like Common Grounds on Main Street in Woodland.” And so I contacted the business broker and he said, “Yep, that’s what it is.” And I thought, “Oh, my gosh. Okay, that would be one of the ones that I would love to have.” Very social, community-oriented, all the things that I wanted. And in my opinion, you couldn’t have a better location. The location is just spot-on which is really, why I wanted this for us.
From the time that you saw the listing to signing the lease, what was the process that you went through to be able to actually open?
It was a complicated process. It was going back and forth on agreeing on a price and understanding what was actually coming with that price. Your furniture, fixtures, equipment, but you’re also buying goodwill. One of the things that’s not documented is location, and I really wanted this location. It was a big deal to me to have this location, especially for a coffee shop because of all the business professionals in the area. We thought we were going to close back in April, and it took us all the way from April to August to get to a close date. And there were some difficulties with the lease, trying to make sure that we could take over the exisiting lease, and signing that with the landlord. It takes so much more time to start a business than you would ever anticipate!
I did take the small business classes through US Center, their Enterprise classes. I did that about a year and half to two years ago. They always told me, “If it says this is going to take up to seven to ten business days, it’s going to take at least that, and maybe add more time.” And of course, you’ve got to do one thing before you can move on to the next thing. Before you can apply for this you’ve got to have this permit, so, it’s kind of like stacking it on. You can’t do it all simultaneously and have it work that way.
There’s an order that you have to follow?
Absolutely. I did learn that in my small business class, so I was very clear. I had a checklist and I would just go down, and it really is a process of hurry up, and then wait, and then hurry up, and then wait. And that was what it was all the way up until we actually got it on August 24th.
So you’re busy creating your plan, negotiating all the business terms and then the lease terms. When and how are you able to implement the vision you have for the shop? Are you just basically at status quo right now, and you’re just going to make changes that you feel necessary? For instance, the beans – are you using the prior roaster or are you going with a new roaster?
I did stay with the same roaster. I actually went out– before we closed the deal –to Sacramento to the roaster’s warehouse. I toured it and I talked with them. I wanted to make sure that I was completely comfortable with where they were getting their beans. There’s labor issues with beans, and I wanted to make sure that they were a business I wanted to keep doing business with. And I was very comfortable with it. They’re a really great family-owned business. But for your other question, it really is right now status quo. I’m just trying to figure out the daily operations, and what’s going on, what’s been done in the past. Really trying to talk with clients that are already customers who are coming in, and asking, “What do you like? What do you don’t like?” I was in here earlier, and I had a gentleman come in and he told me, “I really like the almond scones. Don’t get rid of the almond scones.” The majority of the people – I would say 99% of the people – love the coffee. I’m not going to change something that’s not broken. But I’m hearing over and over and over– and part of my vision is to get more food in here. And so, I’m working on it. It just takes time. I do see – probably by mid-October, beginning of November – getting soups and baguettes. And actually getting some cafe foods that you would see at a coffee house or at a cafe.
What’s your favorite thing about the process of becoming a business owner? It relatively new, but is there something you could pick?
I think just making changes and having the customers recognize and notice. They say there’s new life to the place. And we spent a lot of time cleaning, like the first few weekends I’ve was cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. So little things that may not mean a lot, but I actually had people walk in say, “I can’t believe how much cleaner this place is,” which is a really nice feeling for me. Good, because I poured my heart and soul into trying to do it, time away from my kids and my husband. Make it ready for my customers.
What did you do before this, before Belle Bean?
Oh, I have an interesting background. When I was a teenager, I worked at a pizzeria and then a cafe at Lake Almanor, where I’m from. And I loved it. I was a waitress, I did prep cooking, sometimes I would do cooking during regular shifts. I always loved it. But I really liked the community part of it, talking with people. I’m very social so, that was what made me know that I would like this business. But after that, I had a political career. I worked for an assemblyman in college. I actually have a criminal justice degree because I wanted to be a cop. So, I went to work for Monterey County Sheriff’s Department. My dad and my grandpa were both cops, and I was there for maybe three months and decided, “This is really, really frustrating because I just spent four years of college for this but it’s not for me.” And then I had some friends that knew I was looking for a job and I ended up getting a job at Kaiser in human resources. I was at Kaiser in their HR department for ten years. Then I stayed home with the kids for the last two and a half years, and they’re both in school now so it just makes sense for me to do something because I don’t like to sit. I need to be doing something, I don’t want to call it a hobby but I need something that’s going to keep me busy.
What’s your connection to Woodland? How did you get here?
My husband has an Edward Jones office here. He’s an Edward Jones financial advisor. He’s actually right on Fourth Street. That’s what brought us here, and that was ten years ago, right after we got married. We knew we were going to be moving here right after we got married. So we bought a house here. We’ll stay here, we want to raise our kids here. I grew up in a small town and it might be 50,000 people plus but it still has that very small town tight-knit community support.
What do you want Woodland to know about Bella Bean?
That’s a good question. It’s Woodland’s coffee shop. I want to know what they want it to be like. My clients are mostly business professionals, and that’s normally who we see in here Monday through Friday. And then on the weekends, you get more of the families that live in the area who walk from their house to here, coming with their kids. And so I want to cater to them too. I want to make it their coffee shop. What they want it to be is the direction that I want it to go.