CORAL SPRINGS, FL – The decision had to do with NFL Quarterback Tom Brady – at least somewhat.
The popular Coral Springs specialty coffee house, Lady & The Mug, is opening a second location in Tampa, and the shop’s charismatic owner Aimee Tarte is moving to Tampa as well.
A major New England Patriots football fan, Tarte, 34, had thoughts of starting a second location in Florida’s third-largest city but her decision was sealed when Brady became the quarterback for Tampa Bay Buccaneers last spring.
“That’s when I knew,” Tarte said Tuesday as she headed to Tampa to sign the lease on her new location.
Her three-and-a-half-year-old café in Coral Springs is known for clever marketing as well as supporting social justice causes and organizing community events.
That includes the annual “Santa Claus For a Cause,” which has volunteers picking up people in need and bringing them to the café where they get warm meals, clothing, shoes, toiletries, and lots of hugs.
A teacher turned entrepreneur, Tarte said she’s hired a manager to run the café at 3111 North University Drive and she plans to come back every month to check on the operations and run the events.
The plan to open a second location happened by chance, she said.
Tarte was looking to buy an investment property in Tampa last spring, but by the time she started searching, the market had already priced her out, she said.
So while in town, she visited a bunch of coffee shops and realized there was an opportunity. She said she saw plenty of good coffee locations but, in her eyes, they all lacked something: a mission to give back to the community and do “social good.”
“My shop would kill it here,” she said.
She didn’t act on expanding until, of course, Brady came to Tampa.
“It was a sign,” she said.
So she found a spot on the ground floor of a new building next to the University of Tampa in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Then she got approved for a small business loan. Her new café will open in about three months, she said.
Tarte also is moving to Tampa to build her new café.
In announcing the new venture on social media, Tarte shot a video pretending she was pregnant as she walked into her café with her staff clapping. Her post said: “We’re having a baby, and (its) name is TAMPA!!!”
“It won’t be the same without her here,” said Andy Kasten, vice-chairman of Coral Springs Community Redevelopment Agency, who has known Tarte since she first came to the city.
He said she was bold for opening and operating her café near two Starbucks locations just down the street. Despite the competition, she grew a loyal following by organizing and supporting events in Coral Springs and beyond, he said.
“She’s young, inclusive, and charitable,” Kasten said. “You feel the love when you go in her café.”
As for Tarte’s future, she’s not sure if she’ll open up even more cafés or do something completely different.
“It depends if I get bored,” she said. “For now, I’m just excited. It feels right to do this.”
Read our profile of Tarte here.
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