Welcome to Lazy Labrador Coffee HouseDecember 7, 2021 (Published: December 7, 2021)
But the story of this independent coffee shop began 30 years ago, when owners Bob and Susan Milani met cute on the streets of Olde Town Alexandria, Virginia.
Bob’s black female Labrador Retriever, Bocce, struck up a friendship with Susan’s blonde male Lab, Buddy.
Soon, the dogs were inseparable. Their owners married in 1994.
A few years later, the Milanis moved to Kennesaw, Georgia. Bob worked as a medical device salesperson. Susan stayed at home to raise their two children.
Since then, their household has included five beloved Labs: Bocce, Buddy, Rosie, Cody and Kirby.
Vision: Bring Coffee Lovers and Canine Fans Together
After retiring in 2020, Bob and Susan wanted to become more invested in their community. Soon, they discovered a revitalization plan for downtown Kennesaw.
The chief retail resource missing from the area? A coffee shop! Bob and Susan saw a way to serve the community by serving their favorite beverage.
A day later, they acquired a Queen Anne style home built in 1909. The Victorian-era building sits on a half-acre in the heart of downtown Kennesaw’s entertainment and historic district.
Their vision: bring coffee lovers and canine fans together in a historic building with a working fireplace that offers outdoor seating, a fire pit, a wrap-around porch, and a dog park.
They named their shop The Lazy Labrador after Kirby, who likes to sprawl lazily at his master’s feet while Bob enjoys a delicious cup of coffee.
The only hurdle? The couple had zero experience in running a coffee shop.
Learning to Open Lazy Labrador
“As we planned The Lazy Labrador, we tried six or seven different coffee roasters,” Susan said. “We even signed a contract with one, but they didn’t have a program to teach us to run a business.”
Then they discovered Crimson Cup and our coffee shop startup program. A one-stop shop for independent coffee shops, we supply award-winning coffee, coffee business expertise, hands-on training and industry-leading coffee shop supplies.
“Having the consulting was the thing that clinched it for me,” Bob said. “We broke the other contract to go with Crimson Cup.
“Knowing someone would be there to answer all our questions gave us the confidence to move forward.”
A Proven System for Coffee Shop Success
Based on Seven Steps to Success: a Common-sense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee by Founder and President Greg Ubert, this proven system turns entrepreneurs with little or no coffee experience into owners of thriving coffee shops.
“We’re excited to welcome Bob and Susan as 7 Steps customers,” Greg said.
“We’re proud to help entrepreneurs like them develop unique businesses that fill the needs of their local communities.
“Each local shop adds impact to The Ripple Effect, a focus on good that spreads from our actions to small businesses and communities around the world.”
To date, over 300 entrepreneurs in 30 states have followed the 7 Steps to create profitable coffee shops.
Support from Concept through Opening Day and Beyond
Susan found Step 5, Focus on Training, the most valuable. “Training is the key to helping us be successful.”
7 Steps Trainer and Project Manager Steve Bayless helped the Milanis design the shop, then traveled to Kennesaw the week before the shop opened.
There, he taught Bob, Susan and their baristas to prepare drinks and run Lazy Labrador, staying through opening day to ensure everything ran well.
The coffee and drink recipes, supplied by Crimson Cup, are winning positive feedback from Kennesaw coffee lovers.
“Our first customers had been in the industry for 10 years and were raving,” Susan said. “They remarked how good the crema was on the espresso and how well foamed the latte was.”
The coffee, roasted by Crimson Cup, ranks among the best in the nation. Among other honors, the roaster won 2020 and 2017 Good Food Awards, which recognize the country’s best-tasting and most sustainably sourced coffees.
Asked what he would say to others who are thinking about opening a coffee shop, Bob offered this advice:
“Make sure you’re well financed if you’re doing a historical renovation. Feel very confident in the partner you selected with Crimson Cup. They what they say they’re going to do, offer great products and have really solid experience.”
Visit Lazy Labrador Coffee House
Inside Lazy Labrador, guests enjoy a full menu of hot, cold and iced espresso-based drinks in a warm atmosphere with plenty of seating. Guests can also enjoy rocking chairs and the shade of magnolia trees while sitting on wraparound porch overlooking Cherokee Street and the Southern Museum.
The Milanis invite everyone in Kennesaw, Cobb County and beyond to visit Lazy Labrador Coffee House at 2886 Cherokee Street NW.
“We are excited about bringing our community together in a fun and cool place with really good coffee and an outdoor place where dogs can hang out with their owners,” Bob said.