Our business spotlight of the month with West Chester’s Gryphon Café, doesn’t begin in 2019, but rather in 1999, when this writer was first introduced to the Gryphon Café at their Wayne location. For many years, the Gryphon Café presented a stellar open mic series which was hosted by acclaimed local musician Josh Komoroski. Every week for years, dozens of local musicians and listeners would descend upon the Wayne location, greeted by a café atmosphere that was second to none.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Lennie Mojzes (owner & manager of the West Chester Gryphon Café location) about the instant success of the Gryphon Café’s West Chester location, and here is what he had to share about Gryphon’s commitment to excellence and future plans for the West Chester location.
Gryphon Café West Chester – Finally…a Local Café for Coffee Lovers
Note: Above Image Property of HelloWestChesterPA
What makes the Gryphon Café different from other cafe’s in the market place?
Well…our wholesale coffee is a big part of our business, which really Rich Mattis (the owner of the Wayne location and Gryphon’s main roaster), who should be given credit for our wholesale coffee that we sell to our patrons. Rich is also responsible for our food items as well, which originated from him and compliment our beverage offerings.
We make most of our items ourselves. We make our own humus. We make our own pesto. We make our own chicken salad. We are not perfect in the space of being completely local and organic, but we’re pretty darn close, and we do make that commitment happen when the items we need are available in that capacity. Even our coffee bean producers, we have relationships with and trade directly with them.
For example, our Honduran blend is from an all women co-op, which we’re really proud of. Our whole bean coffee is purchased based on the season from such places as Honduras, Sumatra, & Africa, just to name a few. Coffee is a seasonal crop and ours are from high-altitude, mountainous region farms, which provides a finer quality bean. In addition, all our beans are hand picked.
Thus, the bean changes throughout the year based on its availability. There is usually nine to ten beans throughout the year and they come directly from the farm to our business for roasting to then be enjoyed directly by our patrons.
NOTE: Above Images Property of the Gryphon Café
The Gryphon Café has been growing for over 23 years. What is the secret of your success?
It’s trying to have the best product we can offer while providing great customer service. We really try to be the town center and make the customer feel at home. We always hear “Hey…you should try getting one of those apps to order coffee online.” My response is, “no thanks.” I want the face-to-face. Yes, we could probably sell more coffee. But, for us, it’s really trying to stick to a little bit of the ‘old-fashioned.’ Come on in…have a talk with the barista; get to know each other. We’re trying to keep personality in our business. In addition, it’s simply trying to offer the best product to our customer at all times.
For example, whatever we don’t make ourselves, we try to use a great local company. Our cookies are from Flour and Oats who are located in the Lionville area; they make amazing cookies. Our pastries are from a French baker out in Narberth, PA called Au Fournil, and their product is fantastic. We know we will consistently get a great product to offer to our patrons. And–finally–we try to provide an amazing staff who cares. We strive to have a personal connection with our customers. We want to know our patrons favorite items on our menu before our patrons place their order.
You opened your second location in Kensington a number of years ago. Why choose West Chester, PA as your third location?
I am personally from West Chester. I went to Henderson High School. I started with Rich as his manager in the Wayne location back in 1998. And from that time I said, “Man…we need to put a location in West Chester.” From that time, we started looking for a place. Initially, we tried to open our third location in Rosemont, but it really wasn’t the best fit. So…we spent a number of years trying to find the right spot.
Originally, we tried for years to open a location next to the Mad Platter, because I am big music lover. I shopped at the Mad Platter for decades, and I loved that spot. And I thought, “coffee and records…that’s definitely old-school.” But when the Mad Platter spot popped up (the Mad Platter closed their doors in West Chester after 42 years of business), I thought “well at least it’s me and not a Subway or a Quizno.”
For years, the Gryphon Café in Wayne hosted a legendary open mic series. Are you going to continue to host any local events like your Open Mic in your West Chester location?
We may. We are in talks with a couple of artists who may host something that we’re keeping under wraps. Personally, I would love to do it. But…I don’t know if this is the right location acoustically. I used to put on shows at the Royal Café Live, and I actually built Milk Boy Records in Ardmore so I understand the business. Our location is not an easy spot for a good show, but we’ll see. It’s just too tough to do music and food in the same location. One is always competing with the other. I am moving very slow on this. If I can find a way where it is beneficial to the café and still respectful to the musician then we will do it.
Any closing thoughts?
We’re extremely happy to be in West Chester. As I said before, I have wanted to be in West Chester for so many years. The town has been fantastic to us. We don’t even have a sign up. We just kind of just opened the doors and thought “Well…we’ll deal with that later.” The town has been great, and we have been getting amazing feedback from our customers. We’re just very thankful to be here.
Len, we too at Zukin Realty are thankful for you. Welcome to town.