Over 23 years, Ridgewood Coffee Company has gone through five owners and a handful of renovations in an industry transformed in recent years by the proliferation of national chains.
Terry Jung, the Leonia resident who this month became the sixth to take a turn operating the small corner shop, says it isn’t going anywhere soon.
The new owner says he intends to double down on RCC’s craft coffee, while bringing in high quality pastries to make the coffee house more of a sit-down dessert shop with high-end selections from New York City bakeries.
“When I start a business I look at the bigger picture, not just a location,” Jung said. “When I saw this place, I had a vision down the road. I guess it clicked.”
That vision, he said, is an expanded coffee company around New Jersey and New York City down the road.
“Before that I want this to be the best coffee company in Bergen County.”
Jung readily admits that he didn’t know much about coffee before taking over the shop. And if his plans sound ambitious, he points out that he didn’t initially know much about his last business, either.
After spending much of his childhood in New York working in food service, Jung’s most recent entrepreneurial endeavor, with three partners, was CoCo Pops, a manufacturer of light rice cakes that sold to major supermarket chains like Wegmans and Whole Foods.
After selling his shares in the company a year ago, he began scoping out shops and bakeries in the city in search of a new venture, and plans on introducing the best of what he’s found to the menu at RCC.
Items from SoHo bakery Ceci-Cela and craft roaster Intelligentsia are already on the menu, and he says more is on tap as he settles into the shop, located at the corner of East Ridgewood Avenue and Oak Street.
Music, a regular feature of the shop, won’t be going away either, he said, but there may be additional nights of coffee tastings and classes as he strives to further develop a clientele for specialty coffee.
“I want my customers to know the difference between a machine and a pour-over, the difference between blends and single origins,” he said.
But, unfazed by his location between a Dunkin Donuts and a Starbucks, Jung’s plans go a bit further.
“The coffee business doesn’t sustain itself just off coffee. You need something else,” he said. “I want to make this place famous.”