LEWISTOWN — Local entrepreneur Ryan Cherry wears many hats in the Lewistown community.
Whether he’s roasting coffee beans or playing in a punk band, his influence on small business owners has been far-reaching.
Cherry discussed some of his entrepreneurial initiatives with the Rotary Club of Lewistown on Tuesday during the board meeting.
Ryan and his wife Lillah Cherry will celebrate five years as owners of East End Coffee Co. on May 23.
He got his start with punk and hardcore bands, booking his first gig at Granville Fire House at age 14.
“It taught me a lot about promoting things, making a product and bringing people to your house. It was a huge benefit for me,” he said.
In his spare time, Cherry says he always has a training space above the East End where he spends a few evenings training.
By trade, Cherry is a graphic designer and web developer and helps others build their businesses.
Meanwhile, Lillah handles business administration for East End.
“She keeps the ship straight,” he said.
Bringing First Fridays into the business helped attract a clientele that might not have originally visited East End.
“We had live music every first Friday and we had a different featured artist,” he said. “It helps build community and gives creatives the opportunity and space to meet, congregate, talk and share their work.”
Roasting their own coffee beans was one of the best investments the Cherrys made in the East End.
“It has significantly reduced our costs and given up wholesale opportunities. It also allowed us to be more creative and have more control over cash flow in general,” said Cherry.
As a graphic designer, Cherry is also able to control her company’s brand.
“I do merchandise for our brand all the time – mugs, t-shirts.”
When COVID hit in March 2020, the company was able to adapt and gain community support at the same time by launching (things like) offering coffee in take-out bottles and offering its coffee beans in line.
“COVID was a pain, but it was a great learning experience and it forced us to do something we should have done anyway.”
East End is also able to integrate with other local businesses by hosting merchandise from other local vendors like Square Cafe, Homestead Cultures and Black Mountain Flower Farm.
The cafe has also recently expanded by opening a second location in Reedsville.
“It was a step forward for our company” he said.
Cherry advised other small business owners to treat their staff well.
“I think staffing is the most important part of any business, especially a service business,” he said. “If you don’t treat your staff well, you are your company’s problem…you should ask yourself what you can do to make your staff feel better about their jobs.”