Local business, a consumer's perspective. (Columbus, OH edn)

When I visit the Starbucks on N Broadway and N High I sit at the bar and study the line that builds between 7 and 8. This line is profoundly different than any line at a McDonald's where customers stare at their phones while ordering rarely acknowledging the unfortunate soul behind the counter. Customers at Starbucks holster their devices 3 places out waiting for their turn to engage with their barrista with anticipation rivaled only by a meeting with the kid at the Genius bar.

My favorite employee, Jen, works mornings, the spirited and giggly Cia works nights, Shawn is friendly and polite, his father loves gadgets, the unshaven guy sometimes at the register got his skateboard backpack at a thrift store and a newly-mustachioed Jason plays at Wild Goose once in a while with his band. One young lady is delightfully pleasant and talkative when business is quiet. Annie is a little standoffish toward me, but I know she's a psych major who decided grad school just didn't do it for her, she enjoys her work. Kelly is diligent, damned efficient and knows how to run a shift. They all know things about me.

At a popular Short North cafe, I recently had a pourover that was lukewarm because the young lady, managing at least another customer or two, didn't care. I've been about four times: two visits were bad and two were mediocre. It's not where I'll go to consume my ration of caffeine or spend my limited funds. Oh, their coffee's outstanding and local and all that.

Something about the too oft-maligned Starbucks' employees is magic. They are the soul of the successful franchise because their coffee is insipid; I wish I had the nerve to bring my own and offer them a sitting fee. Yet, I go, I sip, I enjoy, religiously. I yearn for a social connection with my consumption - especially when I'm slapping down cash for food. Don't hate successful businesses, study them.

Dave is a frustrated amateur food scientist and former chemist who blogs about food at weber_cam and occasionally blathers at Dave's Beer. Today he provides unsolicited advice to local business owners.