A Business Proposal


Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffee. Coffeeeeeeee.

There are few things more readily recognized as a universal pick-me-up than a fresh cup of coffee. A hot cup on a cold November morning, a soothing cup after a heavy Christmas meal, or a frozen treat on a hot summer afternoon, coffee plays a critical role in both luxury and daily comfort for people of all walks of life.

The Gigafactory is located in the Reno-Tahoe Industrial Center, here in Sparks, Nevada. The Factory itself is down a road, further distancing itself from the 12 mile stretch of I-80 from Reno that many of us travel daily to get there. If you can picture it, driving down I-80 E, you say goodbye to the last bit of city as you pass mile marker 21. The interstate opens up to 70mph about 6 miles further, as you pass a single Chevron gas station south of the highway. For the next 8 miles or so, aside from the single odd building or road pull off, you’re driving through the desert, hitting the rolling hills going into the mountains.

Coming from Silver Springs (for the most part taking USA Parkway), it’s 100% desert mountains, lost cell service and all, as you cut through the less-traveled path to the industrial center.

No place to stop for gas until you hit the intersection of Electric and USA Parkway, no place to get a drink, use the restroom (other than answering natures call), no place to get a quick breakfast or go-go juice, if you were running behind or missed your morning routine.

With the desert comes a natural beauty—wild horses roaming freely, the occasional grazing cow or farm of pigs and goats. However, when you’re working the dead of night, it also brings around a continuous feeling of udder isolation. As much as I love the open sky and bright celestial light, I also crave a good cup of fresh brewed coffee when production life beats me dead 6 hours in, and I dread the upcoming 6+ hours to go. That little lift of spirit is what I, personally, would love to have access to, and being in the middle of no-where in a still-being-constructed facility, there’s nothing other than the burnt-flavored dark cafeteria coffee I’ve already had to fight facilities with, over keeping the coffee supply coming and accessible throughout the entire night.

As you come off Exit 32 from I-80 E onto USA Parkway, you drive another 4-ish minutes down a curving road, where you’re met with a single gas station on the right, and the turn to Electric Avenue on the left. Companies are starting to construct empty business buildings to lease, and a small hotel has popped up over the last 8 months I’ve worked here. A restaurant also just opened, and a few more buildings are under construction. There’s a few small business also nestled into the little strip behind the gas station—a Port-O-Sub and a Subway are somewhat accessible for Tesla employees to rush to on their lunches, IF they happen to take their break before they close. Within the last few months, Subway became 24 hours—the first business to do so and to provide us with an option outside of the overpriced cafeteria food. A few restaurants rent space in the factory to serve the dinner rush, which is awesome, but often they run out of food before midnight, and food-truck alley is guaranteed barren by 1 am. The specialty coffee shop in the cafeteria closes at 7 pm—not much help for us folks that just start our shift at 6 pm.

What does a girl have to do to get a good cup of coffee? Well, around here, apparently she needs to brew it, herself.

I’ve been polling the folks I work with. Some of the top requested items are 1) more food options (a taco food-truck would sell out in a few short hours, if we could get one on nights), a gym close by (the Tesla facility in Fremont, CA has an on-site gym, and apparently that’s something in the grand plan for the Gigafactory), childcare (I’m not doing day-care), and a coffee/bagel shop. A little cafe where people can get good, quality espresso drinks and a snack that’s close enough for them to hit up on their breaks.

I’ve been doing some research on the economics of setting up a coffee shop. Option 1: Start with a food-truck. Espresso machines can run in the thousands, and one that can survive industrial use, whether it’s semi or fully auto, will run even more. Renting or leasing property will put me definitively on the corner of Electric Ave and USA Pkwy, a trip not everyone is able to complete in 15 minutes. In order to pay back, whether it’s a $200,000 loan for a piece of property and all the machinery, or less, if I were to drop $20,000 on a food truck, I’d need to average around 250 cups sold per day at $4/cup (more cups if it’s not a specialty drink average), not counting all the taxes and licenses I’d need to acquire. Is 250 feasible? As of October 10th, the most recent claim by Uncle Musky himself was we had 7,000 employees here, and I know we’re projected for over 20,000 before the factory is finished. That kind of daily traffic, plus the traffic from the other businesses and warehouses close by, should make turning 250 cups of coffee a day more-than-doable. It’s a desolate location, but it’s growing.

This past holiday weekend, I also had a few people scout out the UNR area, and found that there’s only one coffee shop in most of western Reno open past 9p. Now, while this is the Littlest Big City, it’s still a well-known hooligan-hub, and home to the University of Nevada, Reno. Meaning, there’s no reason the only place to get a decent cup of coffee at 2am should be a casino (which, it is). Surprisingly, there are very few late-night bites open around here. Mainly, it just relies on the casinos and the restaurants within to fulfill that niche. And if you’re like me, sure, a casino might be nice if you’re taking a rowdy, post-work group to grab some breakfast, but it’s not so good if you’re wearing a nice, brand new coat, and don’t want to walk out smelling like stale cigarettes. Even the cleanest casinos can’t prevent that scent from sticking to your clothes, if you spend any amount of time in there.

Anyways, just a thought/idea that might be pushed the longer I stay at Tesla. It’s Tuesday morning. Yesterday, my snowboarding buddy had to stop by the DMV, so we didn’t get around to meeting up until after 11a. Add a trip to the Marina with the dogs, plus a stop to the sporting goods store to pick up some last minute winter gear (helmets are a must!), by noon-1am, it wasn’t worth the drive over the pass to get to Heavenly. Today, we’ll take off in a couple of hours, leaving about five hours of hill-time. It’ll be good for the first trip of the season. Knowing how today is going to go, I’ve already got massages lined up tomorrow morning.

Time to take the pups out—they’re loudly playing tug-of-war in the living room. Puppers has come quite a ways in his recovery, too. Not sure when the last update was, but he’s jogging a little over 2 miles with me, now. The most we’ve done is 4, but he seemed rather sore after that one. He’s walking up stairs, running, jumping, and playing with Pickle, chasing after Pebs, and can keep up for about 10 minutes now of hard sprinting and sharp turns before he starts to limp a little again. A little rest and doggy aspirin, and he’s ready to go again.

That’s all I’ve got for this one, folks.