Welcome to SPOTLIGHT! Each Tuesday I’ll be posting a quick interview with an awesome person you need to know. This week my new friend, Ben Powell – owner/operator of Drift Coffee & Kitchen – swings by to answer some questions.


1. For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do? 

© 2017 Ben Powell

I started Drift with my brother Michael in 2014. We are a café that is very intentional about delivering an authentic experience while serving fresh, inspirational food and drinks. Ocean Isle Beach, NC is where Drift is located, on the beach. It’s cool.

2. Why do you do what you do?

I am driven to offer a unique experience. This starts with genuinely great service; treating people well, having an impact on their day in even just the slightest way possible. From there, I appreciate good food, giving people opportunities(employees), and well-designed things. Things that have been clearly thought out, things that people typically overlook.

3. What inspires you from day to day?

© 2017 Ben Powell

The challenge of sustaining an organization. This gets said a lot: its all about the people you work with! They motivate me to want to do better, to constantly be reading and researching and asking questions about how to improve this little system or how to grow what we are doing to share with more people or how to make our kitchen more efficient to serve 13 more acai bowls. We are working extremely hard to open a second store in Wilmington at the moment. This is a huge step for us, some days are exciting, others are stressful. My eyes are set on making a great place of social interaction for our guests and the people we work with. It’s very community driven and we love sharing that and hope to do it more and more in the future.

© 2017 Ben Powell

4. Can you describe your process for us?

I spend a lot of time doing backend work now and development stuff. Our Wilmington location will open the end of summer so there’s lots to do to get the space built out. From configuring the floor plan, to working with a designer to nail the interior, to negotiating the lease specifics, there’s lots of little things involved.

5. How has that process changed over the years?

This has changed insanely from year 1 where I was in the shop nearly every day doing all the crew member duties, figuring out our processes and systems, and how to work with and manage people. My time was also consumed with slowly evolving the atmosphere of Drift by building furniture and installing fixtures that were necessary for us to serve guests well. Balancing beauty and utility.

6. Where can people go to find more about you?

About Alan V. Nelson

Alan V. Nelson is a writer living in North Carolina. Through the use of fiction and non-fiction, his mission is to encourage hope and healing in others. When he isn't writing, reading, taking pictures, or on a long walk, he can be found enjoying good chai and conversation at a local coffee shop. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram @alanvnelson

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