Welcome to Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City

December 21, 2023 (Published: July 21, 2021)
Owner Rachel Gray outside her new Cornerstone Coffee House - Norris City

Connecting friends, family, and community, one cup at a time – that’s the goal of Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City.

The independent coffee house opened July 15 in Norris City, Illinois after learning how to open a coffee shop through our 7 Steps to Coffee Shop Startup Success franchise alternative program.

“We’re excited to welcome Owner Rachel Gray and her team at Cornerstone Coffee House,” said Founder and President Greg Ubert.

“We love helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of opening independent coffee shops serving the unique needs of their local communities!”

A Coffee Business Built on Making Others Happy

Interior sign at Cornerstone Coffee House - Norris City

Rachel said she has always wanted to open a coffee shop, but didn’t know how. Her earlier career included 16 years as a full-time public school teacher, with some waitressing on the side.

“I loved the interaction in waitressing,” she recalled. “I needed my customers as much as they needed me.”

An elderly man who had lost his wife became an inspiration. “He would come in every day, and I could see the improvement in his emotions through the daily interaction.

“I learned it makes me happy to make other people happy. And what makes people happier than coffee?”

Finding a Coffee Partner for Cornerstone Coffee House

Engraving on table at Cornerstone Coffee House - Norris City

With a goal of creating a community gathering place serving terrific espresso-based beverages, home-baked goodies and light lunches, Rachel began looking for a coffee partner.

She was almost ready to sign with another company when Penny James, owner of Penny’s Perks in Dowell, Illinois, introduced her to Crimson Cup.

“As a long-time Crimson Cup customer, Penny introduced us to the product and shared her experience,” Rachel said. “That’s what sold us. I loved the Friend2Farmer direct trade program and the concept of coffee + community.

“I also liked that Crimson Cup is a one stop shop for everything from amazing coffee to hands-on training and coffee business consulting.”

Following the 7 Steps to Success

Our 7 Steps Team has guided over 200 independent coffee shops in 30 states to long-term success.

Based on Greg’s book, 7 Steps to Success: a Commonsense Guide to Succeed in Specialty Coffee, the program transforms specialty coffee newbies into competent coffee shop managers.

“We give new coffee shop owners everything they need to succeed,” Greg said. “Our customers receive everything they’d get from a coffee shop franchise – and more – without expensive franchise fees or royalties.”

7 Steps Sales Lead Scott Fullerton, 7 Steps Trainer Steve Bayless and their team provide months of consulting on everything from writing a strong coffee shop business plan and choosing a high-traffic location to purchasing the right equipment and designing an efficient shop layout.

Hands-on Training Guides Rachel and her Team at Cornerstone

Tables and blackboard at Cornerstone Coffee House - Norris City

With Crimson Cup’s guidance, Rachel purchased a historic building in downtown Norris City. During building renovation, she and her team discovered several mementos of the town’s 150-year history tucked into walls and ceilings.

Steve Bayless spent the week before the July 15 opening at Cornerstone training Rachel and her baristas in drink preparation, customer service, store management and more.

“I don’t think we could have done this without the training,” Rachel said. “There’s so much to learn even with the training program. We would have wasted so much time and money without it!”

Award-winning Coffee Keeps Customers Coming Back

Norris City coffee lovers are enthused about the coffee, which is roasted by Crimson Cup. “So far the feedback has been super positive!” Rachel said.

“We get text messages saying they can’t wait to come back, and people were already coming back in the first few days we were open.”

Crimson Cup coffee ranks among the best in the nation. Among other honors, our coffee won 2020 and 2017 Good Food Awards, which recognize the country’s best-tasting and most sustainably sourced coffees.

Rachel’s Advice for Other Coffee Shop Entrepreneurs

“If it is in your heart, don’t let the fear keep you from doing it,” Rachel said. “Just have faith over fear and go for it.

“On a personal level, if I’m going to be spending a lot of time, I need to make a place that reflects me and what I want to express for my community,” she added. “I’m focused on making my customers feel welcome and comfortable and at home in my shop. People seem to feel at peace in my space and want to stay and hang out here.”

With a love of coffee and a passion for people, Cornerstone Coffee House – Norris City hopes to connect friends, family, and community at 107 South Division Street in Norris City. Follow their Facebook page to learn about the shop’s hours, menu, events and other happenings.

The team behind the corner at Cornerstone Coffee House - Norris City

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