WHITE HALL – A 140 square foot space, a whole lot of hospitality, a touch of coffee and a woman who ties it all together.
A month ago, 25-year-old Taylor McCartney opened the doors to White Hall’s new cafe, Groove Coffee. Tucked away around the corner from Rose Plaza, just across from bustling Middletown Commons, is a small space that earlier this year served as the office of the owner of the adjacent CBD dispensary.
With such a modest space, McCartney has taken the term “small business” to the extreme, but that’s by design.
“I want it to be a welcoming environment,” McCartney said. “I want people to feel welcome here. This place is a piece of me.
McCartney grew up in the Fairmont area, graduated from East Fairmont High, and went to West Virginia University to study, not business, but fashion design.
With the hopes and aspirations of moving to Pittsburgh and hitting it in the fashion world, McCartney found herself grappling with the realities of the industry. Combine that with her chance encounter with her boyfriend, McCartney decided to stay at Fairmont.
As she continued to sort out what she wanted in life, McCartney bounced between working at Muriale’s Italian Kitchen and Savvy Consignment, a boutique across the river from downtown Fairmont.
While she loved her job at Muriale, she had worked there for almost nine years. Ultimately deciding to take a blind leap, she wanted to apply everything she had learned under Rocco Muriale to her own business.
During her time at Muriale, she rose through the ranks from host to service staff to a management position. All the while, she absorbed the little lessons that Muriale passed on to her.
“I’m so lucky to have met [Rocco], I’m so lucky to have been a part of his company and to have been his employee,” McCartney said. “He took me under his wing. I learned from him how much hospitality means to customers.
McCartney said her daily goal in the cafe was to be a friendly face to everyone who walked through her door, something she learned directly from Muriale.
Muriale fondly remembers the time he spent guiding McCartney in his business. He said he couldn’t be more proud of his determination to move on and stand on his own, even if it means losing one of his favorite employees.
“She and I have always had a close relationship and I’m very proud that she’s going in this direction,” Muriale said. “I hated losing her from here, but when someone decides to go into the hospitality business on their own, I’m very happy to see it.”
Looking back, McCartney was surprised to realize that it had only been a few months since she put together her cafe’s business plan. In four short months, the idea quickly became a reality. And while McCartney could run the boutique solo, she certainly didn’t get to this point unaided.
Her boyfriend, Trevor Moran, helped fund the project and is co-owner of the business. Josh Skidmore, owner of nearby CBD dispensary, Doc Jon’s CBD, was instrumental in helping McCartney get the space and solidify his ideas. Having worked at many start-ups himself, Skidmore was happy to put his expertise to work for someone who was moving up in the business world.
Skidmore said he realized there was a need for a coffee shop in White Hall because the closest local store was right in downtown Fairmont. His hands were busy running the CBD shop, and he knew McCartney from his job at Savvy Consignment, which was owned by Skidmore’s wife.
After some difficulty with leases and financing to secure a location for the café, Skidmore sacrificed her office space next to the dispensary and allowed McCartney to turn the 140-square-foot room into what she affectionately called her “coffee cupboard”.
Skidmore was happy to lend his expertise to McCartney and wished he had a mentor when he first tried to set foot in the business world.
“Having someone walk you through those early stages is really invaluable,” Skidmore said. “I wish I had it when I started. In small businesses, the little things add up and make the headaches much lighter.”
Now, a month after it opened, McCartney is starting to settle into the Groove. When she thinks of her previous jobs, she can’t imagine doing anything else for a living.
If she’s learned one thing from this endeavor, it’s that with the right plan and the right people, anything can be done if the support is there.
“When I started I was scared, I honestly didn’t think it would work. Once I started I realized the smaller steps create the bigger picture,” McCartney said. “I would get in my head about the big picture, but that’s not how it works. Starting a business was a lot of taking it one day at a time, putting your head down and to let it all happen.
Groove Coffee is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information can be found on Facebook and Instagram by searching @groovecoffeefairmont.
Contact David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at [email protected]