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Cravings dawns for new owner

Anne Knowles

Kris Reynolds didn’t start drinking coffee until five years ago.

Now she owns a coffee house.

In February, Reynolds took over Reno’s Sunrise Coffee, on South Virginia Street near Meadowood Mall, but it wasn’t until she changed the shop’s signs – and its name a couple weeks ago that people really started to take notice.

“Since the signs have gone up we’ve seen new faces come in,” said Reynolds.

Now the coffee house is called Cravings and offers, as the biggest sign says, everything from espresso to caramel apples.

“I thought with a name like Cravings we could sell all kinds of things,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds moved to Reno in 1998.

Since then, she’s done everything from waiting tables at On the Border to working at her most recent job as an office manager for commercial real estate appraiser Kimmel & Associates.

But throughout she saved money with the goal of someday starting her own business.

Initially, she had a candy shop in mind.

Then she started drinking coffee.

“Sunrise was the first place I started coming to consistently,” said Reynolds.

“I spent a lot of money on coffee.”

In January, she began chatting with Sunrise’s owner for tips about starting a coffee shop when the owner said she was interested in selling.

The pair started drawing up contracts on their own, which they had attorneys look over.

Six weeks later, the sale was a done deal.

Reynolds bought the business, including stock, furniture, and equipment, in three, lump sum payments – completely from her own savings.

The biggest surprise, said Reynolds, was finding out that she hadn’t purchased with the business all the necessary permits and licenses to run it.

That process involved time-consuming health and fire inspections that had to be completed before she could get the business license.

“It wasn’t expensive,” said Reynolds.

“But it was a lot of running around and time.”

Like the previous owner, Reynolds leases the building, and the three-person staff that helps run the shop remained.

She’s made some changes, though.

Reynolds redecorated the interior, removing dark carpeting that covered the walls and replacing it with sheetrock and beige paint to lighten up the place.

During the transition, Cravings never closed down, so Reynolds has made most of the changes in the evenings, usually on Sundays after the shop closes at 3 p.m.

She said she now works 10-hour days, seven days a week.

Reynolds also replaced Styrofoam cups with paper ones, at the request of some customers, although other customers couldn’t believe the cups were the same size.

(“Coffee customers are very particular,” said Reynolds.)

She expanded the store’s hours to 6 p.m.

during the week.

And she put up the distinctive black-and-white signs, made by Specialty Lighting, that help distinguish the coffee shop from the fast food chains that surround it.

“We used to have people come up to the drive through and order 10 tacos,” said Reynolds.

“I think it was the color, the red signs, and we just blended in with the fast food around us.”

Reynolds says Cravings menu also sets it apart from its neighbors.

She has kept the same menu, which includes sandwiches, salads and breakfast items, and added new sweets such caramel apples, chocolate-covered strawberries and flourless cookies.

Right now her goal is to draw a bigger lunch crowd.

She estimates 80 percent of her business occurs before 11 a.m.

To that end, the shop started giving away $1-off-lunch coupons with morning coffee.

She opens the shop during the week at 5:30 a.m., and is greeted every morning by the same waiting customer who drinks coffee and reads the newspaper before taking off for work at 6:30 a.m.

Reynolds says she hates getting up at 4:30 a.m., but will do what it takes to satisfy her customers.

She stocks 32 ounce cups, for example, for one customer who orders 32-oz., sugar-free, vanilla lattes.

And she buys cranberry and blueberry scones for two customers who always request them.

That’s one lesson Reynolds said she has already learned: “We’re very willing to make the customers happy.”