Publik Coffee first appeared in Salt Lake City in 2012, filling the locally-owned coffee shop void.
In the last seven years, the shop has grown from a single coffeehouse in an old warehouse off West Temple to four locations, including a restaurant, across Salt Lake City.
Josh Edgar, manager at Publik’s flagship location, says the business began with just two partners – one with a background in real estate and another with an idea for a coffee business.
“Publik is Swedish for ‘community’ and that is an important value to [us],” says Edgar, who acknowledges coffee hasn’t always been associated with Utah’s culture. “Publik [was built] with the mindset that coffee has always been a taboo … so we wanted to give a community to everyone.”
The West Temple location is in a repurposed warehouse with an open floor plan that encourages more than just sipping a coffee. The second floor has rooms set aside for customers who need space for business purposes. In addition, the location boasts a very large space reserved for special occasions and events.
The design aesthetic of Publik brings natural elements into the space, featuring a wall of green leaves along the southern wall, breaking from traditional coffee shop interiors and building upon Publik’s unique identity.
Employees at Publik strive to foster the best coffee experience they can by being knowledgeable and approachable.
“We are genuinely a friendly group of people,” says Edgar. “I think most people think about the stereotype of the snobby barista who judges you for what you put in your coffee. We are here to be a friendly face.”
While Publik has grown over the past few years, it isn’t just about expansion to them. There is a method to choosing a location.
“We are always looking for opportunities, but it must be the right opportunity,” says Edgar. “We have had offers, but… [we] are particular about where we open. It goes back to that sense of community. A prime location for us would be a place that needs coffee. It would be a place that is lacking a great coffee shop.”
Edgar’s relationship with Publik has been a long and interesting one. He started as a barista, and within a year, was promoted to café manager at the West Temple location. His promotion didn’t come without some bumps, however.
“The thing I learned is that leadership skills are not the same as management skills,” says Edgar.
Moving into management was a “slap in the face,” describes Edgar. “Thankfully, my manager has been a mentor and Publik has developed my love for Salt Lake so much more.”