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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Service Station Coffee Shop

Note:  Since the writing of this blogpost, the Service Station is under new management.  

The Service Station is a coffee house here in North Spokane.. and it serves good coffee if that is what you are looking for.  They also serve light lunches and desserts that will come in the form of things like panini, bagels, soup, wraps and a whole variety of pastries.  You can even drive thru and get your orders at the window without ever leaving your car!

I had the orange cranberry bread.  Yum!

This business, located at 9315 N. Nevada opened their doors in n in Spokane in 2005, and  there are a lot of people who like this place.  You can tell because it is quite trafficked.  I will say though that often when I am here it has been  too noisy for my comfort level. The TV is always on and its distracting.  I dislike having to raise my voice just so the person next to me can hear.  All the noise seems to echo in this place... but if you do not mind the noise, it's still it is a place people can meet and have a cup of coffee and grab a bite to eat.

I have been here before, quite a few times in fact, but a recent visit spurred me to write about it on my blog.  I found myself looking up the address seeing if they had a website and checking that out too, only to learn a few things I didn't know before.... mainly that the Service Station is not your usual American business.

Businesses in America, as far as I understand, are formed to make a profit, but even in doing so, the American idea is to provide goods and services..vpresumably while making an honest wage.  This is not bad, people who earn profits are then free to do what they want with their money and they can donate money to causes and stuff like that...   which is what I thought the Service Station did.  But they are different.  The Service Station is not a "business," it is an organization.... specifically a  Non Profit Organization.  (or NPO)  This means the profits go not to an ownder, nore to shareholders in the company but benefit an interest... like a charity or the community at large in some way.

I was told by the man behind the Service Station, not the owner, but the "person who made it all possible"   that there are plans in the works to have this place expand to other cities all across the nation. Apparently the company is doing well, and the concept is catching on.  Others want to model it. 

As I mentioned, an NPO, does not distribute its profits to owners or shareholders like a business, although the workers and the organizers, if not completely volunteer, do take in a specific salary, the company pays workers there a minimum wage...whatever it costs to run the organization.  The profits, however... things over the cost of what is needed to run the compan yare to then go to to help pursue the organizations goals.  

What are the goals of the Service Station, (if not to make a profit for the "owners"?) 

They declare at the webpage that Service Station "seeks to give back,". (I assume to the community..??..but for what?  for drinking their coffee????) and  "collaborate with the local area through business and community efforts to help make our city a better place for its citizens."

Nice goal, but I cannot help but read that and think such a definition could... (or should) already apply to most any business in the "service industry," The  2006 Press Release at their webpage says that one of the ways the Service Station "gives" back is that they donate to local organizations like Crosswalk and Excelsior (both organizations to help "troubled" teens.)  So, I guess that you can sit back, relax and feel good knowing that the profits from the coffee shop go to "good causes."

: )

Additionally, the  Service Station  announces to the press that it is "a blend of business and ministry" and that serving the community is their "passion," that...and promoting sustainability, both locally and globally.  This caught my attention too, raised my eyebrows just a bit.  This is  because it would be really easy, for me,  to make the assumption that it is a Christian "ministry," but they do not say that.

"Ministry" can be just about anything anymore.

Also, this idea of "blending"  business  and ministry, sounds good, but is such a thing really possible?  Doesn't it eventually become one thing or another?  Isn't it usually better to focus on one or the other? Better to blend coffees...than get God and money mixed up together and have to figure out later which is which....  They do blend coffee well however, and just so that you know, the Service Station is much more than a coffee stand....'s a 18,000-square foot complex.

Within it's walls are, they say,  state of the art meeting rooms for let, and a spacious 6500-square-foot auditorium that holds up to 800 people.  It is an amazing concept and not only that, this can all be rented out for events like banquets, weddings, receptions, concerts, seminars and conferences.
The lobby of the coffee shop area  is large and has a fireplace, a grand piano, HDTV and the station is well equipped with all the technological things of our modern Wifi to make it work for the techies... and it even remains open until 10:00 days a week for late night coffee drinkers and students who want to socialize while they work.   The webpage also says that on Friday and Saturday nights they host Jazz musicians.

Did I mention that this is no ordinary coffee shop!  

I also learned from my reading of their webpage that they are in partnership with Dominion Trading Company, ... "a vertically integrated company." (I had to look that one up too.) According to my sources, (Wikipedia,) calling it a vertically integrated company, does not mean that the company claims "vertical" connections to God. ( I wondered about that, since I was thinking in terms of ministry and Christian ministry as well, wondering if there was something religious about that term or company name.) I learned that "vertically integrated" is a term that refers to one company owning many steps of the production process for a product, one company controlling all the processes involved from start to finish. It is like forming a monopoly. (In this instance, the product that is in control is the coffee in your cup which comes from the far away, poverty stricken country of Ethiopia in Africa.)

Interesting, isn't it?  

Who would have thought that there is so much more that milk, sugar, water and coffee beans that goes into one little coffee cup!

Service Station on Urbanspoon
Note:  Since the writing of this blogpost, the Service Station is under new management.  It is my understanding it is no longer a non-profit company, but that it is now run like a regular business, in business to serve good coffee just the same.  They have added some great pasta salads to their fare too. 

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