John Crowell, who’s previously worked in the exotic automobile and financial advising industries, wouldn’t settle for a mere million-dollar idea. He believes he can generate $2 million in the next year selling coffee, chia-seed pudding and other nutritious-sounding dishes.
“It’s not proprietary, it’s not new,” Crowell says of the Greens & Grounds brand, which on Monday opened in the Pacific Box & Crate walk-up window previously occupied by Slice Co. “But when I started analyzing what we have in Charleston, there was a big discrepancy in having a coffee shop environment and offering a healthier food pairing to go along with it.”
At Pacific Box & Crate, Crowell is largely dependent on his neighbors to create the vibe he envisions for his company, since there’s no space in the current Greens & Grounds shop for customers. But Crowell is also planning to open a two-story café with the same name in the new Meeting Street Lofts development at the corner of Meeting and Huger streets.
Additionally, Greens & Grounds hopes to cultivate a national audience for its Charleston-themed coffee beans and associated merchandise, including a line of fashion apparel. The beans are roasted in Kansas and California but Crowell is chiefly selling the city. His LinkedIn tagline is “Living out the #journey to building a 9-figure #lifestyle brand!”
“All of our merch and coffee and products are named after a landmark of Charleston,” Crowell explains. For instance, one of the roasts is labeled “Sullivan’s Island.” Greens & Grounds has created a “lifestyle video” featuring Sullivan’s Island so potential online buyers can get a better sense of what the name means.
Greens & Grounds is also working with community non-profits to create customized coffee bags “that would represent them and us both,” says Crowell, who’s pledged 2.5 percent of his first year’s profits to The Green Heart Project. “We’re all about giving back.”
For its first week, Greens & Grounds will stick to a limited menu. Eventually, though, the café will serve vegan and gluten-free baked goods; breakfast items, such as avocado toast and apple cinnamon toast, and diet-specific “bento boxes.”
Crowell three years ago moved to Charleston. The 2013 Indiana State University graduate worked for Northwestern Mutual before launching a personal finance consultancy, which led to him spending plenty of time with clients in coffee shops. “I fell in love with them,” he says.
He plans to open Greens & Grounds at 601 Meeting St. in February.