Bad Ass Coffee leaves Old Town, closes doors
Other small businesses in Old Town may mirror the fate of Bad Ass Coffee.
Michel Boroff, the owner of Bad Ass Coffee, said the survival of "mom and pop retail stores" in the historic district is threatened and others may close down just as hers did Sunday.
She closed the shop for various reasons, but a main cause was the rising cost of rent in Old Town. Recently, her parking lot was made into condos and she was forced to look elsewhere to move her business.
"But rents in Park City have skyrocketed," Boroff said. "We couldn’t find anything within our budget and we wanted to find something in Old Town."
Boroff said, as more local businesses leave, Old Town might soon be filled only with national retailers that are able to afford the high costs of operation downtown.
Not only do rising costs make it hard for small businesses to succeed, but the recent trend may also be dangerous to the essence of Park City, she said.
"If we want to keep these stores, the city needs to make sure there is not another real estate office, time share office, or corporate office on Main Street," Boroff said. "That’s what makes it tough, and how many multi-million dollar homes do we need in Old Town?"
Constant street closures and paid parking in the historic district are also issues that impacted her business, Boroff said. Locals don’t come downtown to shop during the day because they have to pay to park.
"Park City has got to get rid of paid parking," Boroff said. "Every week in the summer we had a street closure and that hurt us too."
The coffee house was in Park City for 15 years, the last 10 as Bad Ass Coffee. During Boroff’s ownership, it became something of a local favorite. The sense of community in Park City brought Boroff and her husband, Jeff, to Park City and they wanted to add to that with their coffee house.
"We always had a very strong local following," Boroff said. "The locals have been our lifeblood. We’ve always been a place where a lot of the kids hung out when there was no place else for them to go."
Boroff said kids started calling her "Mom of Park City."
"It was a nice place to meet people. It was homey and safe here, a place of friendship and love and all that stuff," Boroff said. "We had businesses that came in here and we had four people that met their husbands and wives here."
David Eastman, who Boroff said was one of her first and last customers, stopped by Sunday for one last cup of coffee. Eastman said he was "very sad that it’s closed."
"Michele and the staff they hired made it a homey, hang out kind of place," Eastman said. "It was a place you could drop by and chat with her and other folks; it was very much of the local place. It was very pleasant. I’m really sorry to see it go."
Eastman also has seen a change with businesses in Old Town in the nine years he’s lived in Park City.
"There’s only so much you can do," Eastman said regarding the soaring rental rates that hurt businesses. Some of the ones catering to tourists may be making enough to pay the rents but in terms of locals-oriented, service-type stores, you see a change in Park city.
He said there are some other companies outside of Old Town that have similar community focus, like the Spotted Frog Bookstore, but they don’t capture the heart of Park City in the same way.
"You can’t really have the same atmosphere that is built in a house that is over 100 years old," Eastman said.
Four years ago, Boroff helped start "Roommate Roundup," which took place at Bad Ass Coffee, with the help of Mountainlands Community housing and the Christian Center. The Roundup helped seasonal workers find housing for the winter.
"All they had to do was come in and we could talk," Boroff said. "For a lot of them, it was the first time away from home. To find a place here is really difficult, this year it was really hard. A lot of people have worked through me or found houses. It was informational central."
Boroff will continue to run Roommate Roundup at a location not yet determined.
"I’m going to try to do it. It will probably be done in Miners Hospital or the library. I just don’t know where we are going to hold it," Boroff said.
The shop has been a social meeting place for Boroff as well as her customers.
"The people who come in want to come in for a cup of coffee and conversation," Boroff said. "They’ve shared their lives here. They’ve shed their tears here."
Boroff, in recent days, has also shed tears in anticipation of locking up on the final day.
"It will be tough when I lock the door today," Boroff said on Monday. "We took the last sign down today and the building looks really naked. The hardest part is people say, ‘Where are we going to go for our morning coffee?’"
Locals who come by the shop in the future, Boroff said, will probably sense a little bit of nostalgia no matter what it turns into.
"The little house on the corner will always be the Bad Ass house," Boroff said. "People are always going to come through the front door and say, ‘It doesn’t smell like coffee in here."
Boroff will stay in Old Town, working at the Washington School Inn on Park Avenue. She said she will continue to be active in the community through volunteer programs.
"We have a lot of friends here," Boroff said. "It was my dream to come here and I’m not in business here anymore but I’m sticking around."
Jennifer McDonald, a self-described lifelong Republican, was selected as the Summit County Republican Party chair last week.