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Shoreline Review


BRANFORD — The customer was on the fence, and dealer Chris Zane just couldn't seem to close the deal. "Come on over and have a cup of coffee at our gourmet cofee bar," Zane recommended. "Relax and think about it." Minutes later, the customer credit card in hand, approached Zane and bought the bike. It's a common scenario at Zane's Cycles now that Zane has installed a $3,000 mahogany gourmet coffee bar in his store. he got the idea from a bike shop he visited in Lucerne, Switzerland. Zanes uses the bar to create a relaxed, friendly atmosphere that invites customers to congregate over a free cup of fresh-brewed coffee. He hired a carpenter to build the bar to fit the stores earthy look. The bar scored an immediate hit, and Zane is brewing an average of 150 pots of coffee a month in the off-season and up to 400 during the busy months. Cost varies from $50 a month to more than $100 a month. "The trick is to use gourmet coffee instead of just regular coffee", Zane said. He keeps five varieties on hand. "The whole idea is to present a relaxed atmosphere where customers are welcomed." Customers feel better on a coffee high and are more apt to buy, Zane said. One customer, who was hesitant to take out his checkbook for one bike, had a cup of coffee and then bought two, Zane said. In fact, people like the coffee bar so much that they're paying Zane $9.95 for T-shirts emblazoned with a bike on a saucer and the words, "Served piping hot." What's next for Zane? Espresso and cappuccino - what else?