Winning Coffee — a coffee shop located in the University of New Mexico area — will be closing its doors after 24 years of business.
Matt Jacobsen, a partner at Winning, said they were hoping to keep the store open until the end of the month, but it's much more likely they will be closing their doors one last time on April 20.
On Sunday, baristas were informing customers that it would be the last Sunday the shop would be open.
Jacobsen told the Daily Lobo that the restaurant, which serves coffee and baked goods, needs to bring in about $4,000 to $5,000 more per month in order to stay afloat.
“That’s how far behind we are,” he said.
Jacobsen said the reasons for Winning’s closure centers around what he called “the new normal.” This includes the construction of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit line, with a stop that prevents drivers from turning left onto Harvard Drive, where Winning is located. He also pointed to rising crime in the area and lack of free parking as contributing factors, adding that other businesses in the area are facing similar issues.
Winning Coffee first opened in 1995 under the name Uncommon Grounds, and later changed its name under new management. Jacobsen said the shop has gone through five different managements since he began working there in 1997, something he said has contributed to Winning’s current state.
“This place is still stuck in the 1990s,” Jacobsen said. “Not a single person was able to put money back into this place.”
Jacobsen said that he, along with his father Chris, have worked on improving the shop, but the actions of previous owners have made that difficult. He said the place is in desperate need of a facelift, adding that “it isn’t necessarily the cleanest place right now just in the way it looks.”
However, he said the money for a facelift simply isn’t there, citing a recently-raised rent of $4,700 as a main primary cause.
The store has nearly closed twice before, the first time being when money was tied up in a bagel shop that was connected to Winning. Both times the store was saved on its final day by investors. Jacobsen said he is not ruling out the same thing happening a third time.
Camilla Allison, a UNM alumna and employee at Winning for two years, said it is a blow for the community for the shop to be closing.
“There’s really no other place like this in town,” Allison said. “I don’t know what all the offbeat people are gonna do…I’m not gonna go to Starbucks.”
Winning currently hosts a variety of community events, including musical shows and poetry readings. An event was held last Saturday with Goddess of Arno, a local Balkan dance group, which Jacobsen said was attended by over 50 people.
“It was a beautiful $1,800 night, and it still wasn’t enough,” Jacobsen said.
He also said a new coffee shop might open up in Winning’s place, but that he is unsure if it would still have a kitchen. He said that losing Winning will have an adverse effect on the community, saying the shop has been "an institutional hub" for the area.
“When I look around here, I’m seeing customers…that have been around since it was Uncommon Grounds,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen said he remains optimistic, in spite of his workplace of 22 years closing down.
“Our heads are still high. I’m here still trying to figure out how to make things like this work,” he said. “I’ll more than likely still try to figure out how to make it work even after the doors are closed.”
On Winning Coffee’s final Sunday in business, Jacobsen could be seen showing children how he roasts the coffee beans in a large golden roaster in the corner of the store as dozens of customers typed on computers and conversed with one another, taking short breaks to sip on their coffee.
Anthony Jackson contributed reporting to this article.
Kyle Land is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kyleoftheland.