In a week and a half, Taos coffee shop The Bean will be closing its doors.
Owner Berni Patera told The Taos News that she will be taking a job in operations and training with Dunkin' Brands, the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.
"I love what I do —the baking, the coffee — but this (her new job) was an opportunity I couldn't turn down," Patera said. "I know I'm going to miss it."
Earlier this week, Patera let her employees know that The Bean's last day of business would be May 22. Just before it closed, Patera said The Bean employed four full-time and two part-time employees.
Patera said she wasn't actively looking to sell The Bean, but when the opportunity with Dunkin' Brands came up, she had to take it.
Still, Patera said it wasn't her only reason for closing her shop. She explained that, despite her best efforts, the tough economy has made running the business a struggle.
"I'm a very optimistic person," Patera said. "Four years ago I was saying the economy will get better. I kept saying that, but it never happened."
In October 2009, Patera closed The Bean's northside storefront, leaving only the second location at the Paseo del Pueblo Sur location. In addition to lagging sales, Patera said the long hours are taking their toll.
"I'm here seven days a week, and six of those days I'm here 12 hours — from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.," Patera said. "It's a hard thing. As you get older, you want to spend time doing things besides working. I used to hike. I used to swim. Now I might get the chance to do those things again."
Patera said her dedication to The Bean stems from her dedication to quality.
"There's so much pride in really caring about what you're doing," Patera said.
Despite the plethora of coffee shops in Taos, Patera said The Bean offered something different: fresh baked goods, several menu items, and a diverse selection of gourmet coffees. Patera said she knows the names of at least half the customers who walk through the doors of her business, and she thanks her customers for their gratitude and loyalty.
According to Patera, an emphasis on quality is what brought those customers coming back. Holding her employees to those same high standards has given Patera a reputation as a demanding boss.
"Some of my employees would tell me I'm too hard to work for," Patera said. "I take that as a compliment. It's why we've had a good product." Patera said she is especially appreciative of the hard work all of her employees have given her.
When Patera bought The Bean in 2004, it was the first business she had ever owned. At the time, she had amassed 25 years of experience in the corporate training and operations field. Patera called her experience in Taos a "seven-year master's program in business ownership." She hopes to take what she's learned and apply it to her new position with Dunkin' Brands.
After being an owner, Patera said she would better empathize with franchise owners who are dealing with issues like staffing shortages and operational trouble. Patera said she was looking forward to helping business owners who were eager to succeed in trying financial times.
"This is not just a job. This is everything that I'm good at," Patera said of her new position. "When you're good at something, you want to share it."
Though she declined to disclose any details, Patera hinted that there might still be a future for The Bean. Patera also said she planned to sell off much of the shop's equipment and merchandise sometime after Memorial Day.