On a rainy Sunday evening in 2013, while driving through San Luis Obispo, Jon and Sara Peterson pulled over on Garden Street to take their newborn daughter on a walk through town. On the hunt for the perfect location to launch their coffee shop, the sight of a storefront with a “for lease” sign in the window seemed too good to be true.
“I remember the moment I looked into the window and thought to myself, ‘Oh my gosh, this is amazing. This is going to be our store,’” Sara Peterson said.
Fast forward to now, Scout Coffee co-owners Jon and Sara have three children, two storefronts and are gearing up to launch their third location right on Cal Poly’s campus in partnership with Campus Dining.
“When we signed the lease for that first store over seven years ago, we were really just envisioning owning and operating one little shop,” Sara said. “I did not have this growth trajectory in mind at all.”
The new Scout Coffee is located in the welcome center of the Yakʔitʸutʸu housing complex. While the campus location is not open quite yet, its soft opening is slated for Nov. 4 and their tentative hours will be 7 a.m.-1 p.m on Thursday and Friday.
Like its sister coffee shops, the new Scout will offer a variety of coffee beverages, courtesy of the Petersons’ roasted coffee brand, HoneyCo. The shop will also offer pastries, muffins and croissants, made from scratch in-house everyday.
The hours of operation for the new Scout Coffee are tentatively set from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to Campus Dining’s website. However, Sara said, they are still ironing out the details and may begin their operations with shorter hours and gradually extend them as they train more and more Scout employees.
Sara and her husband were approached by Cal Poly Corporation CEO Cody VanDorn during the COVID-19 pandemic about opening up a Scout Coffee on campus, she said. After taking a walk through campus and getting a feel for VanDorn’s vision, the Petersons decided that it was a no-brainer.
“It was definitely an opportunity where we were like, ‘We have to do this,’” Sara said.
Cal Poly Corporation communication’s specialist Aaron Lambert said the plan is for Scout to be a campus hangout for all. Scout’s central location in the Welcome Center will allow visitors a chance to experience the shop’s good vibes before campus tours, he said.
Bringing local businesses to Cal Poly has been part of Campus Dining’s vision for quite some time. Lambert calls it a “win win” for the campus community, as it not only brings more variety for students, but it also allows Cal Poly to support the local businesses in the area.
The new Scout will have a variety of seating options, including bar stools, cozy lounges and lots of indoor and outdoor tables, according to Sara. There will also be many electrical outlets, an amenity Sara recognizes the other Scout locations lack.
The promise of a new dining option and study spot has generated buzz throughout campus.
“As an architecture student, I’m on campus basically all the time,” architecture junior Mary Schutte said. “I’m excited to be able to grab coffee and study at Scout on campus when I need a change of scenery from the architecture studio.”
Anthropology senior and Scout Coffee employee Emma Tick-Raker said she thinks “it’s awesome” that Cal Poly students will soon be able to experience the coffee shop that shaped her college experience.
“For me, Scout Coffee is part of my college experience, which is part of the reason I wanted to get a job there and why it is such an honor to work there,” Tick-Raker said. “Bringing that presence and bringing the values that we have as a coffee shop to campus is just so meaningful.”
That sort of feedback is validating to Sara, who said she is honored to represent the local business community with this new location.
“To me, it just shows that [Scout] really has had a positive impact on the community,” Sara said. “The energy we put into creating the atmosphere and the culture and the feel of Scout … it just feels like the hard work really paid off.”