Every now and then Clem Pixler, the owner of the Jittery Goat Cafe, gets trade magazines through the mail. Sometimes those magazines are just a reminder of how behind and inadequate Rode Apple Junction has become. For years he has read about the burgeoning coffee industry. It seemed to him like the world had gone nuts over coffee. His theory on coffee was handed down to him by his Dad, the previous owner of the Jittery Goat Cafe, ‘you buy it cheap and make it strong.’
He began to wonder if he was depriving his patrons of a truly magnificent and gratifying coffee experience by not having a cappuccino maker or being able to draw a shot of espresso? Granted the people of Rode Apple Junction aren’t sophisticated, but does that mean they would not enjoy a Tanzanian dark roast or a Sumatran arabica rain forest blend?
Sometimes Innovation Means Somebody Gets Fired
Winky Flynn stopped for a coffee at the Jittery Goat Cafe one morning not long ago.
“Business slow today?” Clem said.
“Haven’t cut hair on a Thursday morning since Carter changed the part in his hair.”
“What did that have to do with it?” Clem said.
“Everybody in Rode Apple Junction decided to do the same thing,” Winky said. “The whole lay of the hair changed and had to give it time to grow out. It got the whole hair cycle off kilter.”
“You didn’t lose any business from it did you?” Clem said.
“Nah, Nah, nothing like the British invasion. That was a sad day for the barber industry,” Winky regressed and lamented. “Monday used to be the slow day and with the change in the collective community hair growth cycle I’m pretty busy on Monday mornings now.”
“Didn’t the long hair of the sixties and seventies hurt you?” Clem said.
“Nah, Nah, you got to be innovative and stay up with the trends?” Winky said and blew on his coffee and sipped. “My, that’s good.”
“What did you do?”
“I fired my nephew, Dirk.”
“That’s not very innovative.”
“It sure was to Dirk,” Winky said. “He had to become innovative to find away to pay back the money he borrowed from his Dad for barber’s school.”
“I thought he went on scholarship,” Clem said.
“That’s the story the family passed around,” Winky said. “Truth is, is that the boy is dumber than sock fuzz.”
In Rode Apple Junction there is only one category below sock fuzz and that is pig snot. Clem quickly filed that bit of information away. Just in case one of Dirk’s off-spring came looking for work.
Clem pressed his lips and said inquiringly, “I’ve been thinking about innovation.”
“Who ya got to fire?” Winky said surprised.
The Jittery Goat Has Always Been on the Cutting Edge
“I’m talking about real innovation. All I see in trade magazines and every time I go to Ft. Wayne or Toledo are cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos in upscale coffee shops. The Jittery Goat has always been a trend setter in Rode Apple Junction. People look to the Jittery Goat for what’s coming next.”
“Like what?” Winky said incredulously.
“My Dad was the first one to install fluorescent lights and neon signs. And we brought the double hamburger to town. You used to have to go all the way to Ft Wayne to get a double hamburger, but the Jittery Goat brought it to Rode Apple Junction.”
“Come to think about it you were the first to start using Styrofoam cups on take-out orders,” Winky conceded.
“Before you know it, Carl, down at the gas station, will get one of those fancy cappuccino makers and take all my coffee business.”
Winky looked at Clem real serious. “Have you ever thought about doing market research. Will folks go for that? Why not take a drive to Ft. Wayne and visit one of those fancy coffee shops, sort of get a feel for what goes on and how it operates?”
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Winky left. Clem pulled a book from beneath the counter. It was a spy thriller by an upcoming novelist, Leonard LaCrue. His latest novel, You Can Never Find a Cuban Cigar in Socialist Cuba, but the Health Care is Good, and it took place in Santiago, Cuba. The main character, Burt Wynncliff, assumes the name Miguel Suarez and makes his contacts at a little café in Santiago. He always orders Espresso Cabana. Clem pictures Wynncliff looking like Bogart in Casablanca speaking with a slight accent. The combining of characters are due largely to the fact that Clem has watched Casablanca four nights in a row. And now with the possibility of market research swimming around in his head, he combines all the elements.
Clem took Winky’s advice to heart and made plans for a clandestine trek to Ft. Wayne.