Walk into The Busy Bean, a coffee shop in downtown South Boston, and one will find a “cozy atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed, at home and wants to sit and stay awhile.”
That’s the way owner Anne Eakes describes the ambiance of her coffee shop. And it’s likely one of the reasons why The Busy Bean was named the 2020 “Business of the Year” by the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce. The business at 530 Wilborn Ave. first opened its doors on Nov. 16, 2018.
Steve and Karen Schopen, owners of Molasses Grill in Halifax, presented Eakes the award at a virtual Chamber awards celebration Thursday evening. Molasses Grill was the chamber’s 2019 Business of the Year.
“It’s such an honor to receive this award, and it’s so humbling to accept it from the Schopen’s at Molasses Grill,” Eakes said. “What a joy and pleasure it has been serving this awesome community. I have met so many lifelong friends on this journey. I can’t begin to thank the Halifax County of Chamber of Commerce enough for naming The Busy Bean Business of the Year.”
For the 28-year-old entrepreneur, opening a coffee shop in her hometown was like a dream come true.
“It’s every girl’s dream to open up a business in their hometown. It’s awesome meeting someone new each day that somehow have a connection with my family,” Eakes said. “It’s like a tight-knit family between the local businesses in downtown South Boston. I feel honored to be a part of it.”
The Busy Bean specializes in coffees, specialty teas, protein shakes, smoothies, salads and paninis. The shop also sells seasonal home décor. Aside from serving up beverages and lunch to customers, Eakes has created a community-gathering place by opening the downtown coffee shop.
Eakes said the location is spacious enough to host baby and wedding showers, birthday parties and other gatherings for special occasions.
“She created a space for members of the community to gather,” Steve Schopen said, as he announced The Busy Bean as winner of the Business of the Year award.
The coffee shop owner shared that making all of her customers feel welcome at The Busy Bean is important to her, and she greets everyone who walks through the doors of her business with a smile.
“We greet each customer with a smile and good cheer, and we strive to have outstanding customer service,” Eakes said.
The new business owner has adapted to an ever-changing business environment in the past year and a half and has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic that hit small businesses hard.
“The pandemic has certainly expanded our horizon,” Eakes said. “We now offer an extensive preorder menu which includes many recipes used by my mom, many friends and Laura Landrum, my sister, is the mastermind behind all of them. We now offer bread puddings, quiche, pot pies, scones, strata, pies, splurge cakes and various salads.”
Patio seating is another addition to The Busy Bean that Eakes is excited to offer her customers.
“It’s been great seeing our customers enjoy this new shady extension of our coffee shop,” Eakes said.
She is always looking for ways to expand her business and uses social media as a tool to reach a wider range of customers.
“On a daily we have people who have traveled from all over to visit The Busy Bean,” Eakes said.
The young entrepreneur said she made the decision to open her coffee shop as a “leap of faith,” and sought out the advice and expertise of community members in the process of opening her business.
Among those who became mentors to Eakes in the process of opening her business are Tamya Vest, executive director of Destination Downtown South Boston, South Boston town manager Tom Raab, Lin Hite, the regional director for Longwood University Business Development Center, her accountant Stan Bradshaw and Judy Day, and Bob Thomasson at South Boston Insurance Agency and Beki Ward.
Eakes also earned a degree from Averett University in the midst of opening her business. She enjoys being on the go, and one of her hobbies is traveling from town to town with her family supporting other small businesses.
“I have a close family, and we are always looking for our next adventure,” Eakes said.
Embarking on the adventure of becoming a business owner has paid off for Eakes. Based on The Busy Bean’s success over the past year and a half, the future is bright for the young South Boston entrepreneur.