Proprietor Jayson Harris, front, has reinvigorated The Perk as a community gathering place at its new location. Photo by Ashley Krupp
Building Community One Sip at a Time. The Perk, rather than grinding to a halt, capitalizes on having to relocate.
The Perk in downtown Winter Park has an atmosphere that is just as invigorating as the coffee being served. It is a bright and fresh gathering place where you won’t feel like just another customer, because you will be treated like a friend.
The Perk is owned and operated by Jason Harris, a Littlerock, Arkansas native. Harris moved to Grand County after graduating college and found a position at what was then the Winter Perk coffee shop. Last September the shop saw a change of management and Harris took over. He changed the name to simply “The Perk” and continued with the momentum the shop already had. Harris describes this time as a bit of an experiment, as it was his first actual business venture. Harris says, “I had to ask, ‘Is there room for another coffee shop in the county or even this town?’ The answer was an overwhelming yes.”
The Perk developed a local base that was quickly growing, however Harris’ momentum was suddenly threatened by plans to tear down the building for new ventures. Harris was given 60 days notice that he and his coffee shop had to be out. He needed a place for a fresh start and he found it on the edge of town, across the highway from Cooper Creek.
After three weeks of remodeling with the help of friends and community members, Harris re-opened The Perk at its new location on June 3. He had been given the chance to start from scratch and give The Perk his personal touch. His vision came to life: an open space with a light and cheerful color scheme.
Although the style of the old and new shop differs, Harris says the constant between the two locations has been community – a theme he is clearly passionate about. Harris says, “We want to get to know your name and your drink. We want you to stay and hang out.” Look around The Perk and you will see big tables for people to share. There are no single spaces to sit alone and Harris says that’s on purpose. “We want people to interact, everyone wants to be known in some capacity.”
Baristas at The Perk facilitate the sense of community. They create the atmosphere and influence your experience from how your drink is made to what music is playing. Harris and his baristas want to interact with customers on a deeper level. He says, “We are here to serve the tourists and take care of the locals.”
The Perk is focused on one thing – coffee. All of their training and time goes into coffee and Harris says it receives 90% of sales. After the transition to his new location, Harris began working with a new roaster, Common Wealth out of Denver. They developed a profile specific only to The Perk, so your single origin, craft cup of coffee is one of a kind.
Harris says The Perk has a very traditional menu, with a couple fun twists. They offer unique drinks like bulletproof coffee, prepared with butter and oil, and the Bhakti Bull, a combination of chai and Red Bull. Harris enjoys visiting coffee shops in Denver, looking for inspiration and new ideas.
Harris is always looking and moving forward. In the future he wants to offer his new space for local happenings, such as charity events, yoga, latte and canvas nights, and live music. He is also planning on adding homemade donuts to his regular menu!
For more information, please visit www.theperkcoffeecompany.com and join the coffee community by liking The Perk on Facebook and following them on Instagram: @perkcoffeecompany. If you fit Harris’ description of a barista, call 501-247-9827 – The Perk is hiring!
Coffee Break with Jayson
Favorite drink: A cortado: equal parts espresso and steamed milk.
The Perk’s most popular drink: Cinnamon Roll Latte – it really does taste like a cinnamon roll!
Describe The Perk in three words: Community. Inviting. Bright.
Favorite Summer Activity: Music in the Park
Words to live by: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.