The Adirondack chairs outside may face the ocean in Avila Beach, but inside the new Kraken Coffee Co. is where you’re more likely to spot sea monsters.
A 20-foot mural of what looks to be a giant squid (the eponymous sea monster the coffee spot is named after) stares from a side wall in the new coffee shop at 310 Front St., watching the bustling stream of customers below as they walk in and grab their daily cappuccinos.
It was the sense of adventure associated with the mythical sea monster that drew owner James Whitaker to the idea of naming the shop, which opened in early April, after the Kraken.
“We wanted something literary and also dramatic, and kind of playful and fun, and would also fit with an ocean-side cafe,” he said. “It’s kind of like an adventure theme — and nautical and adventure theme — kind of like an adventure story.”
Kraken Coffee Co. is located in a highly visible corner spot along Avila Beach’s main shopping area that was formerly Joe Momma’s Coffee. (Joe Momma’s moved to the Inn at Avila Beach in November.)
Whitaker is no stranger to the coffee game: He’s co-owner of Kreuzberg Coffee in downtown San Luis Obispo, as well as cookie stop Batch and acai bowl spot Bowl’d. But this time, Whitaker is taking the business into his own hands as sole owner of Kraken — with a lot of help from Corinn “Rinney” Gallo, the cafe’s manager.
When the former Joe Momma’s spot opened up, the couple jumped on the opportunity to set up shop in Avila Beach, Whitaker said.
“I’ve been coming to Joe Momma’s for years,” he said. “That was my Saturday morning ritual, to come jogging and have a cappuccino, so when the space came open, I didn’t think Avila Beach should be left without good coffee.”
Whitaker declined to disclose how much he invested into opening the business.
Part of the challenge for the couple was developing a signature look for the 1,400-square-foot space.
“It kind of has a clean look, but also kind of masculine,” he said. “Not too Pinterest-y, I guess.”
That also included a focus on branding: Besides the typical fare often found in coffee shops, the cafe offers T-shirts, sweatshirts and even stickers emblazoned with the Kraken logo. It also sells Avila Beach-themed gifts and goods.
So far, business has been steady, Gallo said, with locals stopping in during the weekday for their usual cup of coffee, and tourists checking out the shop on weekends.
“I think it’s going really well, I think it’s going better than we even imagined,” she said.
“Yeah, most of the locals have told us it’s just starting to get into the busy season, so we are really happy with the way things are going so far,” Whitaker added.
The house specialties at the moment include cappuccinos and iced coffees, but the pair are working on adding more food and drink options — including beer — to the menu, they said.
If all goes according to plan, Whitaker said he intends to grow the Kraken brand in the future with more shops.
“Eventually maybe a Kraken 2 or a Kraken 3 — who knows?” he said.