, August 19, 2008
Geof Gaines grew up in Simi Valley, CA, he went to Newberry Park Academy and was “destined” to attend Pacific Union College. “Destined” he said “because my father, Elvin, went there, and my sisters Geralyn and Daina, and my brother, Darin, also all went to PUC.” Geof’s four years at PUC were filled with the fun his parent’s encouraged, but looking back Geof has a few regrets. “I went for four years which I resent; I wish I could have stayed longer…I wish I would have paid more attention… And I really wish I had taken advantage of the program that let you go overseas for a year (Adventist College Abroad).”
Geof, declared a business major because he didn’t know what else to declare. He knew he couldn’t follow in his father’s footsteps and do medicine, “I’m okay with my blood by not others blood.” Instead, he figured there was a business world that had a lot to be discovered. After graduating with a B.S. in Business Administration and Marketing in 1991, Geof worked for several years in sales for various brokerships, his own included.
Nine years after his graduation Geof returned to a dream he and his brother had shared when Geof was a freshman at PUC – win the lottery and then start a coffee house. Minus the lottery and add a lot of hard work and you arrive at the Coffee Depot, the largest coffeehouse in America (according to the Specialty Coffee Association of America). The coffeehouse name doesn’t stray far from its original, the Union Pacific depot. Until 1971 the depot was a working train station. After passenger service ended it was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Riverside’s Historic Landmark #9, but remained empty until 1999. On December 20, 2000 Geof’s dream came true when he and Evelyn, his wife and business partner, opened the doors at the Coffee Depot. He has since visited with many people who return to see what has become of the Union Pacific depot.
Geof remembers PUC teacher Keith Neergaard, telling his marketing class that the shotgun approach will not work in a business plan. He also remembers taking his Coffee Depot business plan to the bank for a loan and the loan officer reviewing it said, “about the only age group not in here is that of my grandmother” to which Geof replied, “No, they are right here.” Geof says he’d love to challenge his professor, “I challenge Keith Neergaard to find a hole in my theory, that the Coffee Depot can afford to do the shotgun approach because every age group can find something here.”
PUC, La Sierra University, Crosswalk Church, and Harvest Church are just some of the groups that take advantage of the 7,000 sq. feet and 250 seating capacity at the Coffee Depot. Geof keeps the schedule packed with free events every night such as live music, improv comedy, salsa lessons, swing lessons, a weekly bible study, and film nights with foreign films shown on their 16 ft retractable screen.
Geof and Evelyn, have a 16 month old son and are expecting another addition to the family in April 2007.