5Q: Terry Buchanan Gormley of Wheelys New Castle
Terry Buchanan Gormley has taken an international model for a mobile coffee truck and brought it to the heart of historic New Castle. Here’s how she is making this distinctive business model work.
Wheelys is an international company with organic coffee carts in countries everywhere from Chile to Jordan. How did you end up launching your own franchise in tiny New Castle?
My son (Dave Casey, who is also my partner) and I are passionate about real food, about organics and fair trade practices. We love living in New Castle and decided to get a coffee cart to set up by the wharf and to serve events here, etc. When we were looking for the right cart, Wheelys’ mission just spoke to us. I’m actually meeting with them in Stockholm next month.
Coffee shops seem particularly susceptible to new styles and trends. As a mobile business, how will you adapt to changing tastes?
We’ve had to be pretty fluid already and we’ve only been serving since April! We started with just organic, fair trade coffee and baked goods, but soon realized we had to augment that with lunches, which we’ve been having a lot of fun with. I’m a cook and write a food column for the New Castle Weekly, so I’m really enjoying myself.
How has the New Castle community responded to your presence?
Everyone has been super supportive. The businesses that are here currently know it can be a struggle in a small town, and they pull together to help each other. But we are now stationed at the Penn Farm Stand on Frenchtown Road. We are working with Delaware Greenways and Colonial School District to help further healthy living practices, showcase local talent and serve the best produce, food and coffee possible.
As for the competition, Delaware has its own mix of independent coffee shops, local chains, and national brands. Where do you fit in?
Well, Wheelys was just starting out when we bought our cart, and in most European and Asian countries, a cart owner just shows up on a bustling street corner or train station and sets up for a few hours at a time. It doesn’t work like that here in the states, so Dave and I have had to jump off a cliff and build our parachute on the way down, as they say. Wheelys New Castle is completely different than when we started out, and different than any other cart owner. Now that we know our customer base and how best to serve them, we are having another cart completely custom-built and hope to have it in another month or two.
What brought you into the coffee shop industry? What makes you want to stay?
All other offerings aside, great coffee will always be our passion. We have a local purveyor that roasts the beans here and gets us the freshest organic, fair trade coffee you can get. The taste is incredible. And we do some pretty creative stuff with it. It’s quite a high when you see someone taste it for the first time. That tends
to keep you going.