By Megan Douress
Photography by Ian Sterling
Even on the coldest days, there is something that makes you warm and cozy at Volo Coffeehouse. It’s a feeling you can’t get from a fresh, hot beverage in your hand—it’s much more than that. It’s the welcoming feeling you get when you are instantly greeted upon entering the quaint shop—the constant light chatter from the corner, the smell of freshly brewed coffee, and, of course, the friendly smiling faces behind the counter saying, “Hi! How are you doing? What can I get for you?”
Perhaps that’s why Volo Coffeehouse was voted Best Customer Service (Food Service) in the Best of Manayunk competition this year.
Owner Akos Racz has been in the food industry for the majority of his career. He’s worked in all kinds of settings, from restaurants to grocery stores and corporate coffee shops. As one would assume, he’s always had a love for food.
“I would watch cooking shows after school at a really young age,” Akos said. “I like the industry because I’m around people all of the time. I don’t ever get bored. I once tried to do house painting and I hated it because it was solitary.”
It had been a long time coming when Akos landed at 4360 Main Street. Back in 2010, La Colombe called that location home, and as a 12-year employee, Akos decided to purchase the cafe and make it his own. According to the coffee shop veteran, the space was just one aspect to creating a positive customer experience in his new business.
“The windows here are really nice, but it’s a small space so people are on top of each other and are forced to talk to one another,” Akos said. “The way we have our fixings set up, you’re kind of trapped there for a while, so there are more chances for interaction.”
Volo keeps things simple, too. You won’t find fancy flavored drinks or much more than paninis, pastries, and yogurt parfaits on the menu. In fact, the coffee shop doesn’t even have a website or a large social media presence. It’s the quality of the products the staff puts out every day that has given them their organically-built following.
“We take a lot of pride in the way we make our drinks,” Akos explained. “Every drink is special to us and we want that to come through. If customers see that we have a lot of pride in our work, that’s going to keep them coming back.”
But, what is the biggest factor in creating the best customer service on the street?
“The employees—just having a fun and friendly experience. That’s number one,” Akos explained. “Without that, I don’t think you can create an atmosphere that is inviting and where people want to be.”
"I’ve been really lucky,” he added. “My employees really enjoy the job and take a lot of pride in their work. I look for people who fit that mold. We’re a family here.”
Volo Coffeehouse barista, Kelly Monahan, can attest to that.
“We take a lot of pride in our work, and I think a lot of it has to do with being friendly, being happy, and being genuine,” she said. “None of this is a façade—everyone is genuinely very nice!”
Anyone who has stepped into Volo Coffeehouse can get a sense of the community its environment, products, and staff have created for itself. It sure has its share of loyal customers—even ones that feel comfortable enough to “spill their guts” every once in a while. And, that could be partly due to the fact that the staff is also loyal. So, how does Akos keep them around?
“I don’t know—you’ll have to ask them!” he laughed.
Learn more about Volo Coffeehouse here.
Visit the Manayunk Development Corporation Contact page for full contact information.
Office: 4312 Main Street, Philadelphia, PA 19127