Business is Brewing on High Street

Starting the day with more than just a cup of coffee at Coffee Connections.

February 2020

story: heidi sohngen design: kriti chawla

photo: sean yu

There’s a new coffee shop in town just off of south campus, across from the Gateway Theater, called Coffee Connections. Coffee Connections started back in 2014, with a small coffee cart in Hilliard, Ohio and a people-focused mission to make each customer feel special and valued.

Nate and Sharon Grenier, the founders of Coffee Connections, opened their first brick-and-mortar store in downtown Hilliard in 2016. Since then, their business has grown to three locations, with another one on the way. Their new site will house a brewery, a small market with vendors—similar to North Market—and a coffee roasting site.

Key to Success is Networking


Opening up a business like this was uncharted territory for Nate and Sharon Grenier. Having no background or experience in business proved challenging, but what helped them the most was networking with various small business owners to learn tips of the trade—what to do and what not to do. Mr. Grenier advised that if a person wants to start their own business, networking is the key because you get the chance to learn directly from someone who has recently been in the same position as you.

 “Finding people and creating that networking group [where] you can say, ‘they’re in my corner’  [because] I can call them, email them [or] text them and I know that they’re going to answer because they believe in me and they believe in my idea, is key to running your own business.” 

If you want to start your own business...find and take any opportunity to network and get your name out’ll learn so much. 


Research your Competitors

The Grenier’s research included going to many of the different coffee shops around and simply observing their surroundings while there. They would write down what they really liked about a place and what they didn’t, so when they were finally ready to start their own business, they knew what they wanted their place to be like. The fruits from the Grenier’s extensive market research enabled them to piece together some of the best ideas out there and bring them together to make Coffee Connections what it is today.

One feature that sets Coffee Connections apart from other coffee shops are their homemade syrups, which were a product of their research leading to networking. While visiting a small coffee shop down in Florida, the Grenier's discovered that this particular shop made their own coffee syrups. When they asked the owners about how they made these syrups and about their experience starting their business, they were happy to share both their experience and advice on what they learned throughout the process. 

Mr. Grenier advised, “If you want to start your own business...find and take any opportunity to network and get your name out’ll learn so much.”

Check out Coffee Connections!

Stop by for a great cup of coffee and an even better conversation. Coffee Connections in the Gateway Plaza is open weekdays from 7am-5pm and on the weekends from 9am-2pm.