Placerville Coffee DepotPeet's  Coffee & Tea  "We Proudly Brew"  Partner

THE COFFEE DEPOT a Peet's Coffee & Tea "We Proudly Brew" partner at 70 Main Street in Placerville provides walk-up and drive-thru services, featuring Peet's Handcrafted Coffees, blended beverages, fresh-baked pastries, bagels and other goodies.

Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum

Embodying a love of history, railroads and coffee, as well as a creative use for a long, narrow lot, the orange and brown Placerville Coffee Depot at 70 Main Street is currently building up business steam.

Owners John and Cindy Mosbacher were faced with a narrow lot and wanted to put something other than an office building on the site.

"I take credit for the railroad idea," said John Mosbacher. "We went to the El Dorado County Museum to see what the historical uses for the property were and found photos of a Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at the intersection of Canal Street and what later became Highway 50."

"We did research at railroad shows, looking for trademark Southern Pacific architecture," said Mosbacher. "We went to the Carson City Museum, the Sacramento Railroad Museum and then to Dunsmir."

In Dunsmir, a rail enthusiast gave the Mosbachers paint chips from an original Southern Pacific depot as well as an education about railroad depots.

"Everybody, the architect, Peter Wolfe, the contractors and friends had ideas and we threw them into the mix," said Mosbacher. Wolfe had drawn a semaphore used for signaling into the plans and when a semaphore came up for sale in Newton, Utah, the Mosbachers took a road trip.

"We learned more about railroads and bought the luggage racks you see out in front, the flags and the spectacles (device that holds the colored lens for signaling) there," said Mosbacher.

The city required an easement for the Coffee Depot and when the building next door became available, the Mosbachers maxed out their credit cards, bought it and turned it into the Whistle Stop Yogurt Shop in keeping with the railroad theme.

"With every penny we could get on credit, we built the yogurt shop and people began to come," said Mosbacher. With a refinancing loan from the Sierra Economic Development Corporation, and the revenue from the Whistle Stop, the Mosbachers were able to build the Coffee Depot.

The Coffee Depot provides walk-up and drive-thru services, featuring Vanelli's Handcrafted Coffees, like the Monster Italian and Classic Cremosa espresso, blended beverages, fresh-baked pastries, bagels and other goodies like Cindy Mosbacher's caramel turtles. It opened in December and has already received the Mayor's award in recognition of the architecture of the little building.

"Cindy and I are very mindful of wanting to put a nice face at the entrance to Placerville," said Mosbacher.

The Coffee Depot menu plans to expand as its clientele grows. 

"It's like a locomotive and it takes time to get up to speed," said Mosbacher. "People already have a morning routine, so we're hoping they try us in the off hours and then decide to include us during the rush hours. We already get people who are out walking or biking the El Dorado Trail who stop by."

Mosbacher, a commercial airline pilot, said the airline he worked for went bankrupt a few years ago and terminated his retirement pension, offering a lump-sum amount instead. "This is our retirement," he said. "It's not what we expected to be doing, but sometimes what you don't expect can be better."

The Placerville Coffee Depot at 70 Main Street in Placerville is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Wendy Schultz

Wendy Schultz has been a columnist for the Mountain Democrat since 2002 and a staff writer since 2005. She covers Placerville city events and City Council meetings, writes feature stories and reports on things of interest in El Dorado County.

By Wendy Schultz
Staff writer From page A3 | May 11, 2012 | Leave Comment

PLACERVILLE RESIDENT Kevin Huffman squirts chocolate syrup on top of his yogurt at the Whistle Stop Yogurt Shop on Main Street in Placerville. Democrat photo by Pat Dollins

SUBHEAD: Shop wins Small Business of the Year

The Whistle Stop Yogurt Shop at 58 Main Street in Placerville was awarded Small Business of the Year for 2012 by the Sierra Economic Development Corporation (SEDCorp) on May 2.

Each year, in honor of Small Business Week, SEDCorp selects a small business for the award based on economic impact, increase in sales, product line expansion, penetration into new markets, job growth, upgrading management capabilities, participation in trainings and workshops, community involvement and dedication to the community the business serves.

The Whistle Stop, owned by John and Cindy Mosbacher, commended by SEDCorp for its entrepreneurial spirit and committment to excellence, has been in operation for three years.With four daily flavors of yogurt and almost 50 toppings, customers build their own yogurt combinations and pay according to the weight of their creation. The Mosbachers also own The Coffee Depot next door to the Whistle Stop, a business they were able to build because of the Whistle Stop's success.

"Originally, we wanted to put in a coffee depot that would look like the old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot that used to be on the corner of Canal Street and what is now Highway 50," said Mosbacher. "Then, the Whistle Stop building became available . It was best suited as office space but there were a lot of empty office spaces in downtown and we decided that retail would be better." The Whistle Stop Yogurt in Cameron Park was closing and the Mosbachers were able to purchase the name and logo, as well as some equipment from the owner. "Whistle Stop fit in with the railroad theme we wanted," said Mosbacher.

Improvements to Lower Main Street, Canal Street and Highway 50 by the city and Caltrans made the location a good one and the new business benefited.

"The new bypass road, streetlights and sidewalks, as well as a real demand for frozen yogurt, gave us a good start," said Mosbacher, "and we exceeded beyond our expectations."

"After we opened the Whistle Stop, I talked to Sam Driggers, the Economic Development Coordinator for El Dorado County, and he told me about SEDCorp," said Mosbacher. "They gave us a USDA world development loan of $150,000 to refinance some of the debt we took on and that was a big help."

The Whistle Stop employs seven people year round, doubling that amount during the summer with part-time help from local college students.

In selecting Whistle Stop as Small Business of the Year, SEDCorp specifically cited the Mosbachers' dedication to community, noting their contributions to Mother Teresa's Maternity Home, El Dorado High School's track team, Gold Trail's Little League "Field of Dreams" and the Dry Diggings Dolphins, a competitive swim team.

"When any of the Dolphins get an improved time, we give them a coupon for free yogurt as an incentive," said Mosbacher.

With the Coffee Depot next door, the Mosbachers have the seasons covered and they offer more than hot or cold treats. "Our yogurt is a real individualized treat and people can be as creative as they want," said Mosbacher. "We have loyal customers here, winter or summer, even in the snow."

"We applaud the men and women who own and operate small businesses and spur economic growth. Through their entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to excellence, they help ensure that America remains a place where dreams are realized," stated Brent Smith, SEDCorp CEO.

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