Shown above at Pluff Mudd Coffee Company are Natasha Bochenek, left, co-owner Nick Gregoire and Chelsea Lynn. Not shown is co-owner Megan Gregoire. Photos by Bob Sofaly.
By Kat Walsh
It’s not yet 10 a.m., the Tuesday before Christmas, and Megan Gregoire is busy moving the heavily decorated Christmas tree in her shop.
The Helena Place volunteer just arrived to pick up the gifts her customers donated. But there are so many presents – her customers are more generous than even she imagined – that the only way to get them out of the shop is through the side door. Where the Christmas tree stands.
At the other end of the shop, her colleague, Tash Selman, answers the phone. The caller wants to know if there is still room for her son in Friday’s story and craft hour, the last one of the year.
The scene ends predictably well – the tree safely moved, the gifts picked up, the reservation made – but the setting may surprise you. It’s a coffee shop.
Pluff Mudd Coffee Company in Port Royal isn’t a typical coffee shop by any measure.
It’s hard to believe that just two years ago, Nick and Megan Gregoire were in the market for a storefront for the bicycle repair and rental shop that threatened to take over their front yard.
“I had envisioned a bicycle repair and retail shop with a limited coffee menu that could be located along the new Spanish Moss Trail,” says Nick. But one day, as they were out looking for spaces, the Gregoires stumbled upon the old gas station in Port Royal.
“I walked inside and fell in love. It had a warm rustic feeling. It was unique, exactly the type of coffee shops I love,” says Megan.
Inspired by the small cafes Megan grew up with, “that place you went to every morning, where you knew everyone and felt at home,” the couple went about building a different kind of coffee shop.
From the very beginning, serving family and the community have been priorities for Pluff Mudd.
There’s the Kids Corner, a small play area filled with toys for the little ones.
“I wanted it to be a place where mothers could bring their kids, sit down and enjoy their coffee and not have to worry about rushing out the door right away,” says Megan.
In addition, the Pay It Forward Wall continues to be popular.
For $5, you can donate a cup of coffee to whomever you want.
“We’ve had everything on the wall from single mothers to construction workers to first responders. I think it’s a great way for people to anonymously help someone out who may be needing it, and it’s fun to see what people will think of,” says Nick.
Customers, of course, are the heart of the growing Pluff Mudd community.
“I love seeing a regular customer come in and getting their drink started before they even place their order,” says Selman “We strive to keep our customers happy and have a lot of fun doing it. The banter makes me smile multiple times a day.”
If there’s any question as to whether Pluff Mudd has succeeded in becoming a home away from home to its customers, just ask customer Lee Padgett.
A man who likes his coffee and knows his coffee shops, Padgett says, “The people in most places who wait on you do become friendly, but here, they become friends.”
Padgett first met Nick as he was getting the shop ready, “looking like a happy toddler who spent the day outside playing.” The two quickly became friends and Padgett became an extra helping hand.
“Everything from hanging fans to going on a milk run for us, Lee has been a true blessing to the shop from day one,” says Megan.
It’s telling that in a story about a coffee shop, the subject of coffee just now comes up.
It’s certainly not because the coffee at Pluff Mudd isn’t worth talking about, but rather just because there’s so much to talk about.
Drip of the day coffees – all from local roasters – rotate daily. There’s everything one would expect at a coffee shop: hot and cold coffee drinks, fresh baked goods and some unique finds.
For the non-coffee lovers, there are protein fruit smoothies and a variety of teas. “We serve Yorkshire tea in proper china mugs, a massive hit with our British customers,” says Selman.
And while it’s exciting to think about the possibilities in the future, Nick doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself.
“I never expected in a hundred years I’d be running a coffee shop, yet here I am,” says Nick. “I think when we make plans, God just laughs and shakes his head. I’m just holding on and enjoying the ride.”
Pluff Mudd Coffee Company is located at 1632A Paris Ave. in Port Royal. Call 843-522-3959.