From Coffee Cart to Coffee Shop

By: Lisa McDivitt Email
By: Lisa McDivitt Email

When the economy goes south it's a popular time for people to start their own businesses. Downtown Grand Junction is a haven for locally-owned stores and one 26–year-old entrepreneur is getting in the game with a coffee shop of his own.

Alex Mackey, who just opened Roasted Espresso and Subs on Colorado & 5th, has been serving up coffee and espresso drinks in Downtown Grand Junction for the past three years. But he hasn't always had a store of his own.

"I was only on the street for a summer," jokes Alex, who began his operation with a coffee cart on Main Street. He bought the cart on eBay, and drove to Chicago to pick it up. "I've learned to crawl before I walk."

From the sidewalk of Main Street, he began brewing coffee at the back of Summit Canyon Mountaineering, where he served up java for about two years. Until he finally took the plunge and got a place of his own.

He took over the Colorado Java House, and plans to change the name to Roasted. "Like, ‘Let's go down to Roasted and hang out,’” says Alex. “We still need to change the sign, but, we're taking it slowly, getting our feet solid."

Alex faces a challenge with a small business. According to, while 66 percent of small businesses last two years, just 31 percent last seven years or longer.

But Alex is in good company in Downtown Grand Junction, where locally owned businesses thrive. And he already has a following.

"I had a friend that used to work at Summit Canyon, so I'd go there to visit some of my friends,” says customer Colter Harkins, who was hanging out at Roasted earlier in the week. “Then got hooked on Alex's coffee."

Alex says, "Word of mouth is so huge. You treat one person right, they're going to tell two other people." He prides himself on good customer service.

"I've never been disappointed. I gotta keep coming back," says Colter.

Alex adds, "If the customers are happy, that's all that really matters."

And, Alex says, good music. "I like it loud."

And so far, he's done well – growing from cart to shop, making payroll, and keeping customers happy.

But as soon as he turns that first dollar of profit, he's got a few plans beyond coffee. "I've been riding this basket bike around for the past 2 years, so maybe buy a car. Get caught up on some bills and maybe buy cool Christmas presents for my family. It's the little things."

Something else that Alex says sets him apart? His business hours. He plans to keep Roasted open until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 9 p.m. weekdays. He’ll also be open on Sunday.

And if you’re down at the Downtown Farmers' Market Festival this Thursday, stop by Roasted to get some live music with your espresso and sub.

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  • by Theresa Location: Thornton on Aug 16, 2009 at 07:08 PM
    Alex, your Uncle Dominic and Aunt Theresa, as well as the rest of your family, are so proud of you and all you have accomplished! Keep the forward momentum your upbeat personality and caring attitude. Frank, thank you for your support of Alex and his budding business, Roasted.
  • by Jeff Location: GJ on Aug 6, 2009 at 10:42 AM
    In response to Frank, I'd have to disagree about the originality of the concept. Further, cheap and good were used to describe the new place's offerings. I've been there and I would have to say that cheap and cheap are more apt.
  • by Frank Location: GJ on Aug 5, 2009 at 02:45 AM
    He bought the business from someone who wanted to sell. Once you own something, you don't have an obligation to keep everything the same. That's not how it works. The previous owner wanted to sell, he didn't go in their with bags of money forcing her out, he's 26! We should be happy this young kid was able to continue to grow, build a following, and buy his own business in a time when so many places are closing down. He's trying to do something new in this town, heaven forbid change ever happen here. His cheap sandwiches and good coffee are a relief from so many of the over priced places on Main Street. If you all think the old place was so great, you should have gone more often and then the old owner wouldn't have had to sell it.
  • by Lydia Location: Fruita on Aug 1, 2009 at 06:01 AM
    It's too bad when someone takes a time-honored tradition such as the Colorado Java House, which has been here for at least a decade, and so easily dismisses it, throwing the name out with little respect for all those who grew up with it especially for a name as unoriginal and uninspiring as "Roasted." Do they even roast there? What a shame.
  • by Jeff Location: GJ on Jul 31, 2009 at 02:04 PM
    It looks like this guy continues to "borrow" a lot from some of his competitors except for having poor coffee.
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