by: Candise Montemayor
With enough coffee, anything is possible–just ask the Ramsey family. Stan, Bev and Devon Ramsey are becoming a trifecta of powerhouse family entrepreneurship.
Stan Ramsey, an industrial product salesman, was smitten at first sip when he ordered an organic coffee at a shop in Townsend TN. “I could hardly drink coffee after that because nothing compared to it,” he mused. Stan and his wife, Bev, owner of Pink Ribbon Boutique in Fort Smith, found out about The Artistic Bean franchise through a Tennessee business connection.
Returning to Fort Smith, they approached their 20-year-old son Devon about managing the first Artistic Bean coffee shop in Arkansas. Having grown up with parents who were business owners, Devon had a front row seat to what it would take to start up a successful small business. “I have always been a coffee drinker and I was immediately on board with what they wanted to do,” he said.
Bev explains how the art studio and mural work by local artist Pat Riggs creates part of the experience patrons will be able to enjoy. The coffee house theme is in keeping with Fort Smith history and reflects Cisterna Italy, Fort Smith’s Sister City through décor and paintings. Rustic wood counters and handmade tables contribute to the unique expression the family is bringing to the location. It was formerly an antique store between R. Landry’s New Orleans Cafe and the Fort Smith city offices at the Stephens Building.
Stan said they invested heavily in the equipment, because when it comes to the actual making of the coffee, that’s what it is all about. “We have all organic coffee from five different countries, so it starts with the beans. They are small-batch roasted on site, our water is soft filtered, and a trained barista has full control over the lever action espresso. With good quality control, all those things come into play to produce the end result–a drink that even the most serious and critical coffee consumer will find to be the best,” he explained.
Devon has put together a team of staff that have training in latte art, creating a design with steamed milk on the top layer of foam. “The making of the coffee is an art but it’s also a science,” he said. “Having an open roasting bar for public view is a great way to enjoy a cup of coffee and learn about the process from selection to grinding and bagging all within sight. It’s an absolute passion.”
The dynamic of family business has its challenges and benefits and Devon doesn’t shy away from speaking about it. “It’s always personal when you work with family,” he shared. “Whatever the challenge is, with open discussion you’ll find a way and work through it.” The best aspect of working with his parents is easy he says. “They are always in my corner and I can always go to them with a problem. We are an absolute team, dad is the builder, I am the operator, mom is the books. I’d rather work with family than anyone else, I have total faith and trust in them and I’m just glad they took this chance and risk with me and that we are all in this together.”
The shop will support other small businesses by offering pastry selections from the area. If someone wants to come in for a quick cup or if they they’d like to take a little bit more time and experience something more exotic, The Artistic Bean will offer a variety of both coffee and art.
Stan comes back to idea that America was built on small business. “A young guy like Devon can get in there and make a difference and have a business and be a part of the American dream,” he explained. “I personally go out of my way to support small businesses. Families need support and their businesses need support and I believe it’s crucial we keep that going.”
The Artistic Bean’s grand opening was set for Nov. 8. It’s located at 615 Garrison Ave. Hours will be Monday through Thursday 7 am to 7 pm with later weekend hours, closed Sundays. For more information, call 479 420-8522, and check out the Facebook pages.
Candise Montemayor is a seasoned journalist and freelance writer/photographer who has been published in newspapers and magazines throughout Arkansas,Texas and Oregon. She has taught several young adult creative writing classes in the Fort Smith area. She is passionate about community involvement and contributes part-time to the Fort Smith Public library as a teen specialist in the youth services department.