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Couple opens coffee shop hoping to serve rural community

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 7:24 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Since Audrey Ureda was 20 years old, she has dreamed of opening up her own coffee shop. Last week, with the support of her partner and co-business owner, she made that dream into reality.

“It was very nerve racking,” Ureda said. “It was super exciting. It was just kind of all over the place. There was still a lot of small details that I wanted to be perfect. Then finally it was just the realization that you just open your doors and you try your best.”

Monday, Nov. 22, marked the grand opening of Toasted Joes, a little coffee hut off of the highway in Willow. The couple started plans for the coffee shop about a year ago, including, Ureda said, having to fix their own piping and do their own wood floors.

“Every time I look at the floor, I’m like ‘I was on my hands and knees fixing that,’ so,” Ureda said. “It’s been really cool to see the whole thing come together and just be built.”

Being in a rural location brought some struggles to the coffee hut by making it more difficult to find resources when they had to fix their piping right before their opening day.

“It was just a lot of back and forth from Wasilla,” Ureda said. “You get there. You don’t have the right part. We’re doing a lot of things on our own. A lot of figuring things out, and just ... not having all the resources right here in Willow.”

But the rural factor is something Ureda is hoping that will benefit their business. She says Willow sees a lot of through traffic of visitors and truckers making their way to Fairbanks and it is a market she was hoping to tap into.

She plans to do this by offering pre-ordered drinks, a service she says is currently available in select Anchorage coffee shops but she believes has not been available yet in Willow.

“Just finding our niche out here in Willow,” Ureda said. “And so just trying to meet the community and connect with them, and just be more community minded. We are really excited to give back to the community.”

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