SAVANNAH is a place where, if you don’t live here, you probably think we’re simply a tourist trap supported by SCAD, the ports, and St. Patrick’s Day.
You probably think there isn’t a pulse south of Victory, and that our food and beverage industry is packed full of chain restaurants put in place so tourists can feel more at home when they visit.
And if you haven’t visited this city over the last five years, you’d probably be right.
However, this influx of intention to create the change that we want to see in every aspect of life has flipped this tourist trap on its head as it creates its own system of culture.
Savannah is an extremely creative town, surrounded by a lot of poverty and separation. The ladder of opportunity and success can most times feel disproportioned and designed to support the old system of Savannah culture. Those still holding on to the past better look for something else to hold on to very soon.
Just like in any intellectual revolution, the great minds of the time would generally mull over their groundbreaking ideas at a coffee table, in a place other great minds would congregate and discuss things.
Fast forward to this decade in Savannah, and you can see similarities within the environments and discussions, with coffee shops dedicated to providing a space for the intellectuals of this century to formulate this century’s formula of change.
Maybe we aren’t talking about the scientific revolution, or the wave of technology in the digital revolution, but the premise remains the same, even in our small city.
I’m fortunate to live right around the corner from my favorite coffee shop, which happens to serve the best brewed coffee, roasted locally, along with the most enticing atmosphere around.
And they just so happened to have celebrated their five-year anniversary recently.
I sat down with the humble and hardworking owner of Foxy Loxy Cafe, Jennifer Jenkins, to get her story and her perspective on what this cafe means to the city.
“Growing up, I always loved dreaming and creating inside coffee shops, so this was an opportunity for me to stay in a city that I loved, and providing that space for others,” Jen explains.
Born in California but growing up all over the country, Jen, just like the rest of us, took a few different paths to end up where she is today.
After studying pre-med at Penn State for some time, she decided she no longer wanted to pour her energy into something that she didn’t have a passion for, and made the decision to follow what she loved, which was art, and more specifically printmaking.
Graduating from UW with her BA in fibers, Jen decided to continue pursuing her education in this field, which landed her in Savannah, where she got her masters at SCAD. After teaching as an adjunct teacher in SCAD for a moment, she was presented with another crossroad.
Although she loved art and printmaking, teaching was not her element, and decided to walk away looking for an opportunity to find her niche.
“I loved Savannah, but I could not see teaching being a part of my future,” Jen says. “I used to regret that time I felt like I wasted figuring out what I wanted, but I still pull from those stages of life to this day.”
Using her experiences, Jen formulated an idea spawned from her newly sparked interest in coffee and espresso during a semester of her master’s program in Lacoste, France.
Fascinated with the difference in quality, and how differently people consumed coffee in France, she wanted to bring back some of that culture to create a place that could provide an inviting atmosphere with some quality coffee and espresso to a town that needed it desperately.
“The goal was to have great coffee and to have people want to drink it black,” she says simply.
And so in 2011 Foxy Loxy Cafe was born, and Jen quickly learned how much it took to own and operate a small business, in even a small town like Savannah.
To make things even more challenging, she was afforded an opportunity that she couldn’t refuse which would allow her to continue to develop her brand and open another location on Broughton Street, less than a year and a half after opening her flagship cafe.
After a few challenging years, and I’m sure buckets of blood, sweat, and tears, Jen has a place that every local in Savannah frequents weekly, if not daily. Locally brewed and roasted coffee, with some of the most knowledgeable team of baristas in Savannah, you can walk into Foxy never having had an espresso, and leave not even craving milk or sugar in your coffee.
“Having trust in my employees is what allows me the time and energy to devote to other places,” Jen says. “I’ve got great leaders within my company, which is how we are able to remain consistent, and continue to grow.”
Growth is always a sign of development and maturation within a company, which is why it is amazing to see a local company take off and make the best of every opportunity given to them.
With the help of her trusted staff, coming in the near future there will be a few more locations opening under the Foxy brand: One dedicated to providing a space to serve a menu designed solely for vegans, in addition to a bakery dedicated to all the baked goods we love so much from them.
All in all I’m very happy to see someone who loves the city of Savannah believe in it enough to set up camp, and really pull all of their passions together in order to serve the city and provide a space where creative minds can sip espresso and brainstorm on the next action of change.
Congratulations on five years running, and here’s to another five! Let’s keep stirring that pot, people.