La Verne resident Mary Seymour and her daughter are greeted with a friendly smile as they enter the doors.
“I will have a mocha blended ice, please,” Seymour said.
“Don’t forget about me,” 7 year old Karen Seymour interrupted.
“And she will have a scuffin,” Mary Seymour added.
“One scuffin and one mocha blended ice on the way,” the associate said.
As the associate makes the drink, the three begin to chat it up. In the three minutes it takes to make the blended ice, they talk about everything from the weather to Karen’s school to Mary’s day.
This is a typical day at Faith’s Comfort Foods. The associate is Kelsey Weaver, who also runs the store.
Located on the corner of Bonita Avenue and D Street in the University of La Verne Bookstore building, Faith’s Comfort Foods, which has been open for two years, is a family business run by Kelsey Weaver and her mother and owner Patti Weaver.
Patti Weaver bought Faith’s Comfort Food two years ago. At the time Kelsey Weaver was still attending Cal State San Luis Obispo where she was finishing her business and management degree.
“Even though I was not in La Verne I was still in charge of everything financial for Faith’s,” Kelsey Weaver said. “I did all the taxes, bank rolls and everything else. We had great communication even though I was far away.”
Last summer after Kelsey Weaver received her business degree, Patti Weaver handed over the business to her daughter, Kelsey. Even though Kelsey now runs Faith’s Comfort Foods, Patti still occasionally comes in with her other daughters to visit and check up on the store.
Faith’s Comfort Foods offers a variety of foods and beverages, including Blended Ice in a mocha, caramel, Oreo, brownie, strawberry, peach and mango flavors; sandwiches, such as turkey, roast beef, ham and albacore tuna; salads, like chicken cobb, oriental chicken and chicken taco; carrot cakes and strawberry shortcakes and their house special: the “scuffin.”
The scuffin is Patti Weaver’s original creation. It is a mix between the muffin and the scone.
“This is one of our top sellers,” Kelsey Weaver said.
In addition to the regular menu, Faith’s Comfort Foods also offers a different home made dinner for every night of the month, such as roast beef, pork and chicken pasta dishes. These dinners can be bought for $9 for individual meals or $30 for family meals, which serve about four people. Kelsey Weaver plans a month ahead to determine which dish will be made each night.
“This started when my mom made food for the people at Church of the Brethren,” Kelsey Weaver said. “They would tell my mom, ‘Since you have to make dinner tonight, can you make a little extra and make some for me?’ So my mom would make extra and they would just pay her.
“Her customers included busy teachers, who didn’t have time to make dinner on their own but wanted a homemade dinner for their family,” she added. “Well the teachers told their friends and their friends told their friends. After that, my mom decided to make the ‘Dinner to Go’ menu where anyone can get a homemade dinner every night of the month.”
Faith’s Comfort Foods also delivers and caters during holiday events, weddings and other parties.
Besides food, Faith’s Comfort Foods also offers decorative gift baskets for every holiday season and event. Kelsey Weaver creates each basket to celebrate Christmas, Easter, bridal and baby showers and any other holiday one can think of.
“I love her baskets,” Mary Seymour said. “I love the idea that I can shop for my friends and get some food, but only take one trip.”
When walking in Faith’s Comfort Foods, shoppers’ eyes go straight toward the decorations. Faith’s Comfort Foods is decorated like the average person’s house. With Faith’s Comfort Foods, the home is brought to the University’s Book Store.
The store contains a typical dining cabinet where the finest china dishes are stored. But at Faith’s, the cabinet is used to hold the customer’s sugar, straws, salt and pepper for their orders.
Decorative plates cover the walls, mosaic tiled chairs and tables sit at the north end of the store and stools and tables line the walls of Faith’s Comfort Foods.
“The decorations make you feel like you’re at home,” said Cynthia Heele, freshman undeclared major. “Being away at college makes you miss home, but Faith’s brings the home to you.”
With bigger coffee shops and bakeries like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, smaller independent stores like Faith’s Comfort Foods are in jeopardy. But Kelsey Weaver is not worried.
“We cater to the customer,” Kelsey Weaver said. “Our customer is always first. We build a personal relationship with them.
“If we were just a store that only served coffee and sandwiches, of course we would be in trouble,” she added. “But one of the reasons why we’re still open is because we have the ‘Dinners to Go.’ They accommodate every busy family in La Verne and its surrounding cities.”
Even though Faith’s Comfort Foods sales increased from its previous year, the shop had to face some of its biggest obstacles.
“Faith’s is located in an incredibly hard location,” Kelsey Weaver said. “It’s a hard location because there is no visibility when you’re passing down the street. Faith’s is still open with the help of word of mouth.”
Another obstacle Faith’s has to endure is the end of the school year.
“When school is out in May, we hardly get any foot traffic in here,” Kelsey Weaver said. “But then September rolls around and our sales increase again.”
Neighbor ULV Bookstore thinks highly of Faith’s Comfort Foods.
“They give us a great neighborhood feel,” said Jim Emord, ULV Bookstore store manager. “The smell of chocolate cakes and home cooked meals make the days go by much faster. We’re happy they’re here and we hope they get more exposure.”
Unlike some small businesses in La Verne, such as Shari’s Subs and the Book and Bean Bistro, Faith’s Comfort Foods is in its third year and is still going strong.
“These small stores in La Verne closing is an exception rather than the rule,” said La Verne Mayor Jon Blickenstaff.
However, Blickenstaff sees the difficulties in opening a business and keeping it open.
“It’s a nationwide challenge to open and operate a small business,” Blickenstaff said. “To be successful in the long run goes beyond the city of La Verne.”
Blickenstaff suggests that all businesses have a plan before opening a shop.
“Each business needs a financial backup of a few years to make it through the lean times in the beginning,” Blickenstaff said. “They also need to survey the marketplace and keep in mind the business’ competitors, like nationwide franchises. They need to ask themselves, ‘What do I have that’s unique?
“It’s easy to establish a business and just open its doors,” he added. “But it’s hard to keep those doors open.”
As the associate rings up Mary and Karen Seymour, she wraps up the conversation.
“Have a great day and see you next time,” Kelsey Weaver said.
And again the cycle continues with the next customer and the ones after that. They are greeted with the same friendly smile and personal attention that Mary and Karen Seymour were given.
Nila Priyambodo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.