Kaldi's makes four coffee shops near the corner of Ninth and Cherry streets

St. Louis-based Kaldi’s joins tight downtown cafe market
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 | 9:25 p.m. CDT; updated 9:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Kaldi’s Coffee opened this week on Ninth Street, adding one more coffee venue to downtown. Kevin Larson, left, chats with Rob Gaskin, a cook at Kaldi’s, just after the end of his shift Tuesday.

Java lovers have a choice of coffee shop near every corner at the intersection of Ninth and Cherry streets. Kaldi’s Coffeehouse, which has four other Missouri locations, opened this week at 29 S. Ninth St.

It joins Panera Bread, Cherry Street Artisan and LaKota Coffee Co. near the downtown intersection.

While Kaldi’s is new to downtown, the operators are familiar with Columbia. MU graduates Howard Lerner and Suzanne Langlois opened the first Kaldi’s in St. Louis in 1994.

The coffeehouse sells Fair Trade organic coffee, which is roasted in St. Louis. A Kaldi’s already exists in MU’s Ellis Library, but its downtown location is a full-service Kaldi’s complete with smoothies, sandwiches and breakfast items.

“It was a long-term goal to have a store here in Columbia,” said Josh Ferguson, a member of the family that owns Kaldi’s.

Ferguson and his wife, Tricia Zimmer Ferguson, are not new to operating a business.

Besides Kaldi’s, the Zimmer family owns Zimmer Radio Group of Mid-Missouri, which includes the talk radio station KSSZ/93.9 FM, The Eagle, and country station KCLR/99.3 FM, Clear 99.

The Fergusons are also opening a Kaldi’s in downtown Clayton.

The Fergusons are not looking to battle other coffee shops.

The business entered the market in Columbia because it is already so big, Tricia Zimmer Ferguson said.

“Our goal is to raise the level and awareness of coffee products in Columbia,” she said.

Nearby coffee shops are anticipating what the new opening will mean for business.

Skip DuCharme, owner of Lakota Coffee Co., is across the street from the newest competition.

“There’s the old thought that you put all the car shops next to each other, and they do better business,” DuCharme said. “If that theory works, it would be good for all of us.”

DuCharme thinks smaller coffee shops might have a more difficult time as Columbia’s coffee market becomes saturated.

Carrie Gartner, director of the Special Business District, sees the new businesses — especially chains that have opened in the past few years — as recognition of Columbia’s growth.

“We hit population level, I think, so all of the sudden people started looking at us,” she said.

Gartner expects Columbia to hit the 100,000 mark before the next U.S. Census in 2010.

Columbia is a place for around-the-clock activity with a need for coffee shops, she said.

Chris King, owner of Kayotea, isn’t surprised by the change in Columbia but wonders if all the coffee houses can survive. He doesn’t think Kayotea, a tea house, will be affected.

“I really don’t foresee those three coffee houses existing on the same corner,” he said. “I think it’s going to put a lot of pressure on those shops to stay open.”

Nick and Carrie Allen, who moved to Columbia from Kirkwood, came to the shop on opening day. Carrie Allen said she loves the blueberry pomegranate smoothies from Kaldi’s. Bouncing her 6-month-old baby girl, Campbell, up and down, Carrie Allen recalled the past year when she had to make stops on her way to St. Louis just to get her smoothie fix.

Nick Allen is a subscriber to the coffee of the month club. Kaldi’s selects a coffee to send to its customers once a month.

“We’re just happy that they’re here,” Nick Allen said.

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