Fans of Duane and Suzie Parks’ Coffee Corner packed their newest location, in Santee Town Center, for the grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday morning, September 6, 2013. With representatives from the City of Santee, Santee Chamber of Commerce and state and national officeholders, the day was a testimony to the drive and determination of the Parks family.
Since opening the first Coffee Corner in the Pathways Community Church center in July, 2009, the Parks have worked hard to build their presence in the community. A large part of their success has been in their willingness to be involved in helping various local groups and organizations. One of the first to reach out to them was Santee resident and local radio personality Clint August, who has staged many of his own charity motorcycle events at the original Coffee Corner.
“We’ve done probably 30 fundraisers a year, and it all started with Clint,” said Duane Parks during the ribbon cutting ceremony. “He’s the first guy that asked us to do something…It’s been great because it’s just really neat to be involved in so many little things. Yes, it’s a little coffee here, a gift card there, but just to be a part of so many peoples’ lives is so good.”
That belief in giving back to the community has led to a strong following among residents, organizations and other businesses. At the new location a dedicated conference room has already been used by the Chamber and local businesses for meetings, and Parks has leased out a second space to photographer Penny Johnson Wilkinson’s The Front Porch Studio. When San Diego Christian College opens its new campus in Santee, Coffee Corner will likely become a popular destination for students and faculty.
“The great support from the community has been awesome,” Park said. “This will be a fun venue, different from our other shop. This will be later afternoons and evenings, doing music. With the college moving into town this will be a good venue for the college students. They can do homework, they can have entertainment.”
On hand for the ceremony were representatives from offices of U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, California State Senator Joel Anderson and California State Assemblyman Brian Jones, all presenting special proclamations. Santee Vice Mayor John Minto and Councilman Rob McNelis, fondly known as Mr. Santee, represented the city and the Chamber was represented by Executive Director John Olsen and several board members.
“We’re very excited for Duane and Suzy for the opportunity to open another shop in the community to serve the people in the area,” said Olsen. “They are located in the center of town, and I think it’s really going to help them grow their business and help support everyone who works here and their family.”
“They are doing everything right,” said McNelis. “To not only have a second location but to have a second location so soon after opening the first one is just fantastic, and I wish them all the success in the world.
“I’ve been over to the Coffee Corner on Mast Blvd. and it’s always been a comfortable place to be,” said Minto. “When I saw that Duane was opening a second location here next to the Home Depot, I thought it was great because I do a lot of my business in the middle of Santee. I can come here and get the same comfortable setting that I did over there. I like the fact that it’s a privately owned business, and I can come here and have meetings and not be interrupted. It’s a perfect location for people in business or leisure or otherwise.”
While some may question the wisdom of opening even one coffee shop in a world seemingly overrun with national chains, Duane and Suzie Parks have shown that conventional wisdom is frequently wrong. By focusing more on reaching out and being part of the Santee community, Coffee Corner has developed a strong following that will help make the second location as successful as the first. It also helps to show the strength of the East County economy.
“What this means for Santee is that this is a place where people can count on having more than one location as a business,” explained Vice Mayor Minto. “To have a coffees shop, and to be able to thrive among the other national chain coffee shops, is an absolute testament to the ability of private enterprise to continue to thrive in this community.”
For more information about Santee Coffee Corner, visit their website at http://www.santeecoffeecorner.com/.