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As more coffee pours downtown, Inman Perk faces competition — but with confidence
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An Inman Perk customer walks out into the square in downtown Gainesville Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, with a coffee drink. Inman Perk has served as downtown Gainesville's sole coffee shop since Midland Station closed in 2019. As new coffee shops move into the area, Inman Perk faces competition, but its ownership is confident the shop will remain the top destination for coffee on the square with the help of a loyal customer base. - photo by Scott Rogers

If you're looking for a cup of joe in downtown Gainesville, you won't have to go very far.

With the newly opened Meadowlark Coffee on Bradford Street and Boarding Pass Coffee slated to move into Gainesville Renaissance early next year, what does this mean for Inman Perk, downtown Gainesville’s primary source for coffee since the Midland Station's closure in 2019?

As the influx of new coffee shops pours into downtown Gainesville, Inman Perk faces new competition, but its ownership remains confident that, with the help of a loyal customer base, it will remain the top destination for coffee on the square.  

“It’s going to be a challenge, but we have really good customers and very loyal customers, so I think we’ll do fine,” owner Blanche Ettinger said. “Of course, it will put a little dent in our sales, but I think we can easily survive it.”

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Inman Perk has served as downtown Gainesville's sole coffee shop since Midland Station closed in 2019. As new coffee shops move into the area, Inman Perk faces competition, but its ownership is confident the shop will remain the top destination for coffee on the square with the help of a loyal customer base. - photo by Scott Rogers

Family-owned and operated, Inman Perk made its way to Flowery Branch in 2005 as an extension of its original location in Atlanta’s Inman Park neighborhood. In 2008, the coffee shop relocated to downtown Gainesville. 

“The Gainesville square seemed to give us that community that we did not have in Flowery Branch. We’re from Gainesville, so it was nice to be home,” Ettinger said.

While it attracts many students, Inman Perk serves a diverse set of customers, the largest age demographic being 24-36, Ettinger said. 

The shop also offers a broad menu including breakfast options, pastries and sandwiches as well as a large selection of hot and cold drinks.

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Chloe Cox prepares coffee drinks at Inman Perk on the square in downtown Gainesville Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022,. Iman Perk has served as downtown Gainesville's sole coffee shop since Midland Station closed in 2019. As new coffee shops move into the area, Inman Perk faces competition, but its ownership is confident the shop will remain the top destination for coffee on the square with the help of a loyal customer base. - photo by Scott Rogers

What sets Inman Perk apart from other shops entering the downtown coffee scene, according to Ettinger, is that it’s “an integral part of the community.”

“People come and spend hours in the coffee shop, so we are another place to gather and be, and by doing that we interact with the community more,” she said, noting Inman maintains partnerships with the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia and other local charities in addition to buying products from local vendors. 

Ettinger said she wants her coffee shop’s success to give other vendors success. 

To keep up with the growth of downtown’s coffee scene, Ettinger said Inman Perk is constantly changing and looking for new ways to serve its customers and attract new ones. 

The shop's new edible cookie dough has been a customer favorite, along with its breakfast croissants, avocado toast and gluten-free muffins. 

“We’re excited that it's a growing destination with all the apartments and restaurants that are being built,” Ettinger said. “We’re hoping that there's enough business for everyone.” 

For the holidays, customers can look forward to the return of in-house coffee mugs for sipping hot cocoa, coffee or tea.

Inman Perk is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, with the exception of Christmas and Thanksgiving. 

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Inman Perk has served as downtown Gainesville's sole coffee shop since Midland Station closed in 2019. As new coffee shops move into the area, Inman Perk faces competition, but its ownership is confident the shop will remain the top destination for coffee on the square with the help of a loyal customer base. - photo by Scott Rogers
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Inman Perk general manager Michelle Benanti prepares a customer's order Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, at the popular coffee shop on the square. Iman Perk has served as downtown Gainesville's sole coffee shop since Midland Station closed in 2019. As new coffee shops move into the area, Inman Perk faces competition, but its ownership is confident the shop will remain the top destination for coffee on the square with the help of a loyal customer base. - photo by Scott Rogers
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The Inman Perk robot has been a part of the popular coffee shop for years. Iman Perk has served as downtown Gainesville's sole coffee shop since Midland Station closed in 2019. As new coffee shops move into the area, Inman Perk faces competition, but its ownership is confident the shop will remain the top destination for coffee on the square with the help of a loyal customer base. - photo by Scott Rogers