Joshua Boyt, who owns Metronome Coffee on Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue, says business is good, so good, in fact, he’s considered opening another location for some time.
Up to now, he’s held out, waiting for what he calls “a perfect fit.” For Boyt and his wife and business partner, Gretchen, that would be a location where they could marry their business goals with their underlying passions for building communities, supporting arts and music and, generally, just lifting people up.
“We just want to show what it is to be an active player in the things you’re passionate about personally, and how that can work in business and beyond,” Boyt said recently.
That’s why Saturday’s announcement that a Metronome shop will be part of the new East Side Community Center is such good news.
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Tacoma’s East Side needs such a space. And deserves one.
The fact that Boyt’s second brick-and-mortar shop will be part of the $29 million, 55,000-square-foot center seems to be a perfect fit.
The center is scheduled to open in 2018 on the campus of First Creek Middle School. Metro Parks Tacoma will operate it.
So what do Boyt and Metro Parks have in mind, besides coffee?
For starters, Boyt envisions a gathering spot where music and the arts are fostered.
That dovetails nicely with one of the cooler amenities of the new community center: a recording studio. Boyt foresees a potential partnership there, where musical artists utilizing the studio can take the Metronome stage during open mic or other scheduled music events, and even record them.
The Metronome space also will have an outdoor patio area that might prove perfect for live music, said Ben Foster, who will serve as recreation supervisor at the new community center. Foster currently holds a similar position at the Portland Avenue Community Center.
Foster calls the partnership “an almost perfect fit,” and one that couldn’t be replicated by bringing in a corporate-chain coffee shop to fill the space.
He offers a succinct “no” when asked whether the East Side has anything like what Metronome will bring.
Supporting music and the arts is a good start, consistent with what Boyt has been able to accomplish on Sixth Avenue.
For Boyt and Metro Parks, the ambitions don’t stop there.
Get talking to Boyt, and you soon realize that Metronome’s profit margin takes up little mental space. As cliché as it may sound, the money seems secondary to him.
“If you are being who you were made to be, and doing what you were made to do, then the money will follow,” says Boyt, who grew up in Wilkeson, in the “shadow of Mount Rainier” as he puts it, and found his way into the coffee business without a post-high school education.
Today, after 17 years in the business, Boyt has experience working in almost every aspect of the trade, from “farms to the service in the cup,” he says.
One of Boyt’s passions is passing along what he’s learned about the coffee business to those who may follow in his footsteps.
At the new Metronome location he says he plans to offer organized classes and mentoring to anyone who might be interested in exploring a career or job in the coffee industry. It’s a desire that should fit nicely with plans for the East Side Community Center’s culinary-arts offerings.
Boyt also plans to place an emphasis on providing employment opportunities to those with disabilities, as he’s done at his Sixth Avenue location.
Both are callings he says he cares deeply about, because of his background and, at least in part, because his youngest daughter is disabled.
“We’re big about that, creating opportunities and leveling the playing field,” Boyt says. “I see us doing even more of that in the new space.”
“Our hope is to (offer) some coursework, and education around coffee, that will help open being a barista as a trade for individuals that would like to pursue a career, or even just some income, if they happened to be disabled or otherwise,” he says. “We just want to basically show people that if it’s something they enjoy … they could potentially make it a career.”
In the grand scheme of things, a new coffee shop on the East Side certainly won’t change the world.
But — like the new East Side Community Center itself — it just might make a difference in someone’s life.
Which, to Boyt, is precisely the point.
“It’s what we’re about. It’s what’s we’re teaching our kids through this. It’s what we want to be as people, to open doors,” he says. “To be a positive influence in the community, that’s our commitment.”