Every day, the cheerful “Tube Man” beckons customers to pop in and become a guest at one of New Carlisle’s most unique and well-known businesses on Main Street: Penny Lane Art Gallery & Café.
The beloved Penny Lane recently marked an important milestone for a small business when it celebrated its Fifth anniversary on June 1. The Small Business Administration data suggests only 50% of small businesses survive for five years.
Located 109 S. Main St, New Carlisle, Penny Lane Art Gallery & Café was opened by John and Stephanie Jones in 2012. The couple already owned the wholesale art publishing company, Penny Lane Publishing, located in Park Lane. That business still exists and is operated by their son.
Head Barista, David Payne, explains that the Jones’ original idea was to just open an art gallery as a space to retail Penny Lane Publishing’s art work. Eventually the decision was made to also begin offering food, specialty coffees, and gifts, thus Penny Lane Art Gallery & Cafe was born. The young business soon became a favorite spot among locals.
Payne attributes part of the café’s success to the shop’s welcoming atmosphere and the exceptional relationships employees build with the business’ customers, “People always comment on how nice the shop is and how great a place it is to spend some time...We have a rapport with our customers that you don't find just anywhere. That means a lot to us, and I think it means a lot to our customers as well.”
Every piece of art in Penny Lane Art Gallery & Café is a derivative of Penny Lane Publishing’s art and photography prints. The Gallery offers a space for Penny Lane Publishing’s original art to be sold to a larger segment of the population. According to the café’s website, over 2,000 images in a variety of sizes are available for sale and are offered on top quality canvas at affordable prices.
Café customers attest that, like its art, Penny Lane’s coffee is top-notch. Part of that is due to the partnership between the shop and Boston Stoker Coffee company. The other reason Penny Lane’s coffee is so fantastic is the Head Barista’s ten years of experience in the specialty coffee business.
“I’ve spent (a lot of) time learning just about everything there is to know about coffee, from seed to cup, so we can keep serving the best cup around,” explains Payne, “I love to help educate customers about the entire process. I think it helps (customers) appreciate what we do a lot more.”
Some people find it surprising that a business the likes of Penny Lane, with its art gallery, specialty coffee, and creative homemade food offerings has made its home in a town the size of New Carlisle, let alone thrives in it. Payne explains that co-owner, Stephanie Jones, grew up in the area and “really wanted to start a business that would be of value to the community.” To accomplish that goal, the owners made quality the store’s number-one priority. Payne explains why offering quality products and service is important in a market-area the size of New Carlisle.
“We can't compete with the big chains on pricing or scale, so we have to make sure our customers understand the value of what we are trying to do...I think when (that happens), they really appreciate it...We've expanded and refocused our menu a few times, we have a staff that is continually educated on the products we sell. We try to offer a unique menu with a high-quality product and the best customer service around, and I think once people get that, they really appreciate it a lot.”
Penny Lane also cultivates a sense of community with its extremely popular Friday Open Mic Nights from 6-8 p.m. Any musician, poet or comedian is invited to call the shop and book a slot in the line-up.
As Tube Man prepares to continue welcoming old and new guests into Penny Lane Art Gallery & Café for another five years, Payne reflects on the growth the business has seen in its first half-decade and the most important thing he would like to see happen in its future.
“We've seen word spread and (the) business grow. The best thing about that growth is, again, those relationships we've established with customers. When (a) customer comes in who knows your name and you know theirs--and you know exactly what they came in for--that is a great feeling, and I think it goes both ways...I would like to see continued growth and I would like to see even more of those close customer relationships form in the future at Penny Lane.”