Battlefield Coffee fills a niche for Nancy residents, visitors | Kentucky

The 15-minute drive from Nancy to Somerset may not seem like much to the average driver. But if you take that trip four to five times a week just to grab a cup of coffee, maybe it’s time to reassess.

For the most part, that probably means making more coffee at home. But for Phil Keeney and Dean Whitaker, two entrepreneurial Pulaski counties who appreciate a great cup of coffee, it meant seizing the opportunity to brew coffee for their community.

“The whole business started because my partner, Dean Whitaker, had just moved to Nancy,” Keeney said. “We had been friends for a while. We were in a parking lot one day and he said, “You know, what we really need in Nancy is a coffee. I hate driving all the way to Somerset for a good coffee.

It was a light bulb moment for Keeney, who already owned a popular pizza place in Nancy. There was an empty unit open in the plaza where Keeney’s Mill Springs Pizza is located, a building owned by his father. That would be perfect for a coffee shop – and later, a mini-grant from the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) to help the company serve more customers.

“I ended up talking to her later that day, like, ‘Hey, how serious are you about this? “” Keeney said. “That’s kind of how it started, just out of necessity.”

Some of the more successful businesses are filling a void in the market, and Keeney and Whitaker have found one: there was no place in Nancy to get a cup of locally sourced coffee. The opening of a café was an opportunity to give this option to residents and visitors, and could well complement the booming tourist economy on the western corridor of Ky. 80.

So they started to do their research. Soon they found a Kentucky-based coffee bean supplier who now supplies three custom roasts for their business, which they named Battlefield Coffee – a nod to the Mill Springs battlefield and the rich history of community civil war.

“We knew we wanted to give it a local name. As you know, Lake Cumberland and Mill Springs are kind of depleted, ”Keeney said.

He threw out the name of Battlefield without thinking it would be a possibility; surely another company had already taken this name. It turns out he was available. And quite appropriate.

“Our building literally sits on the property where this fight (the Battle of Mill Springs) took place,” Keeney said.

Whitaker, a graphic designer by training and owner of Good Brothers Ink in Nancy, has incorporated the now iconic Battlefield Coffee canon into the company’s branding. The theme of the Civil War is present throughout the interior of the store and on the merchandise.

As they developed their brand and business plan, Keeney and Whitaker discovered another opportunity in the Pulaski County coffee market: Sunday sales. A locally sourced cup of coffee wasn’t available anywhere on Sunday until the opening of Battlefield Coffee.

“I’ve owned Mill Springs Pizza since I was seventh grade and my dad has owned it for over 25 years so I kind of know people take that Sunday commute just because they’ve been in business for so long. “said Keeney. .

Opening on Sunday was a good thing. The store is not only busy on Sundays but throughout the weekend due to the traffic other local attractions bring to the area. People visiting Cumberland Lake, Pulaski County Park, Haney’s Appledale Farm, Bear Wallow Farm, and the Mill Springs Battlefield Visitor Center and Museum now purchase an original cup of coffee local to Nancy to fuel their visit.

Battlefield Coffee opened in March and, in addition to coffee and custom drinks, offers a number of food items (sausage balls are all the rage, a recipe Keeney adopted from his aunt who made them when he was young. ). Keeney and Whitaker give their baristas the freedom to be creative and try new recipes. This independence was rewarded in August when Battlefield Coffee won the Specialty Drink of the Year award at the Cold Brew Coffee Festival in Lexington.

It only took three months for word to spread about Battlefield Coffee and the drive-thru window to get crowded. Customers could go to the window to order, but as the queue grew, it became difficult for baristas to fill orders quickly. Having an intercom system would help alleviate this problem – baristas could get a few orders in advance and improve the customer experience.

Keeney had heard about the SPEDA mini-grant program and thought it would be a great way to fund this much-needed equipment. Keeney and Whitaker seized another opportunity and were successful in their proposal – with their $ 2,500 mini-grant, drive-thru customers can now order through an intercom system that Keeney says “improves” the store.

Having a resource like the mini-grant program is invaluable for new businesses, Keeney said.

“The first few years aren’t exactly profitable,” he said. “You try to spend the money you earn by putting it back into the business. But having a resource like this is very helpful. I hope more businesses will take advantage of an opportunity like this.

Keeney and Whitaker should know. They can sense a good opportunity within 15 minutes.

About Glenda Wait

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