Hugo reigns at the Park City Visitor Information Center
February 21, 2014
Hanging on a wall in the Park City Chamber/Bureau’s Visitor Information Center at Kimball Junction is an oil painting, a "headshot" of a white dog with brown spots on his ears and a yellow crown on his head against a royal blue background. "Hugo, King of the Hill" is one of Claudia McMullin’s most prized possessions, because it is a painting of the American bulldog-mixed breed dog she adopted from Friends of Animals four years ago: Hugo.
"I fostered him at three-weeks-old, because he was separated too early from his mother. He is a piece of work," McMullin said. "He’s incredibly handsome, as you can see, so making his name and face the logo of my coffee shop is my way of tying together my love for dogs, my love for Hugo and a new business."
McMullin is the former executive director of Friends of Animals Utah, a Summit County Council member and a lawyer. Now, she can add coffee shop owner to the list. Two weeks ago, she opened Hugo Coffee, taking over the Silver Bean Coffee shop location at the Visitor’s Center.
She decided to start the shop after hearing that Silver Bean Coffee would not be renewing its lease in December. She said she didn’t want to be a lawyer anymore and wanted something to do in addition to serving on the Summit County Council, so she bought Silver Bean’s espresso machine and coffeemaker at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2, and opened for business at 7 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 3.
The goal of Hugo Coffee, McMullin said, is to serve people in Park City who need a place to gather for business, meetings or socials, which is why she chose the Visitor’s Center and its "pro-business attitude." The first weekend the shop was open, there was an art show at the Visitor’s Center, and the Park City Area Home Builders Association held a social at the shop a week later.
"You can have business meetings, because we have plenty of room," McMullin said. "I’ve created areas, pockets of seating where you can have confidential conversations and meetings, and the tables and seats are not so close together."
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She added that she has worked with the Park City Chamber/Bureau on plans to convert an area by the front doors into a conference room, fully equipped with a computer and printer to print out work documents and even airline boarding passes.
Hugo Coffee’s doors have been opening at 7 a.m. Monday through Friday to accommodate business meeting opportunities, two hours earlier than the previous coffee shop’s opening hour. McMullin closes the shop at 3 p.m. but said she will stay open later once there is enough business to warrant it.
With the help of three baristas her soon to be daughter-in-law, Anna; her son, Brad; and Haley, formerly a barista for Silver Bean Coffee McMullin sells exclusively Silver Bean Coffee, out of Salt Lake City.
Breakfast sandwiches, baked goods, yogurt parfaits, lunch sandwiches, chips and fruit are also available. The menu is currently the same as it was when Silver Bean Coffee was renting out the location, because McMullin said she would like to take a month or so to see what sells and what doesn’t and change the menu accordingly.
Hugo Coffee is in a "soft opening phase," McMullin said, and she plans to have a grand opening sometime next month. Until then, she is enjoying her new business venture and excited to make her treasured pet the face of her coffee shop.
"I can’t wait for the logo with the Hugo’s face all over it, because it is so stinking cute," McMullin said. "I would love Hugo Coffee to become like Black Dog in [Martha’s] Vineyard, where there is Hugo swag and people are walking around with Hugo’s mug all over them, but we’ll start small for now."
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