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While the calendar says summer does not end until later in September, the Labor Day holiday seems more like the official end of summer, as schools and colleges are back in session, the days are shortening and the nights are cooling. So, like many American holidays, the original purpose of Labor Day – celebrating workers – has given way to less noble celebrations, such as parties, football games and a short beach trip.
However, the Greater Hickory Metro Area, which has been a center of industrious people since its settlement more than two centuries ago, continues to attract people who are community-minded and industrious. Once such individual is Edgar Hernandez, whose latest venture is the opening of Taste Full Beans at the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library. It’s the third location for the coffee shop.
It opened last month and is at the main entrance to the library.
Hernandez said, “We have gourmet organic coffee, pastries, snacks, cappuccinos, frappuccinos, smoothies and lunch items from L&L Catering, a local caterer that supports numerous nonprofits in our community.”
It is open 9 to 9 Monday through Thursday and 9 to 5 on Friday and Saturday.
Hernandez said the library’s then-Executive Director Mary Sizemore and Taste Full Beans “started talking about the possibility of partnering with the City of Hickory for this project.”
“The idea came from some of the bigger cities that had this concept of a coffee bar combo within the libraries,” he said. “The idea was to promote and support the library and its many great programs and increase local traffic in general.
“Installing Taste Full Beans at the Patrick Beaver Library was the perfect partnership and a great concept to bring the city into the new millennium,” he said.
The partnership hit a temporary snag when Sizemore accepted a job in another city. However, the groundwork paid off.
“We had everything figured out — the place, concept and future benefits to the library and the coffeehouse.”
Hernandez said new director, Louise Humphrey continued the project.
“It then went to the City Council. Everybody there was very excited about this new concept,” he said. “After that, Taste Full Beans at the Library was not a dream anymore.”
This newest venture is the latest step in Hernandez’ active involvement in his adopted home.
“I moved to Hickory in 2000 after finishing my Bachelor’s in marketing. I was drawn by the dream of new horizons, new opportunities and being close to my family,” he said. “I visited Hickory before, and it seemed like a very welcoming community. It has fresh air and beautiful scenery, lots of nature surrounding me. Coming from a big city, I found it intriguing and comforting.
“I grew up in a big community. It was not very personable,” he said. “There were a lot of demands and few opportunities for developing close relationships.”
It isn’t surprising that he chose to develop many of those relationships through business.
“My family background has always been in business. Everybody owns their own – uncles, cousins, grandparents, and my dad — so it was in my blood. I did decide in the end not to own my own business right away, knowing how difficult it was for my dad; time consuming would be a good way to describe it. But ignoring those drawbacks, I ended up going to college for business and choose marketing as my major because I felt it was my forte.
“It was my father’s teachings at his business that kept me going and growing and it made me stronger. My father and grandfather kept teaching me the values and skills of being fair, managing inventory, family, and making the right choices to succeed as our family had been doing for generations,” he said. “My parents helped me open my first business when I turned 18. It was a small, modern cafe, strategically placed in a good location and with a menu created specifically for that particular place. It was far from my family business that had been specializing in electronics and retail, focusing on a totally new market.
“It was difficult, but it helped pay for my tuition while I was going to school,” he said. “Finally when I decided to move to Hickory, my business was worth a lot more money than what we had opened it with so I sold it and moved to Hickory.”
His upbringing also motivates him to work for more than his own gain, learning while young that business leaders have a responsibility to help improve their communities.
“My hopes and dreams for Hickory and my place in it is what I have been working on so hard for the past 12 years,” Hernandez said.
“My goal has been to create partnerships between the businesses of this city. I am strong by myself, but we as a community will be stronger when we all work together as one. I started by developing relationships with the other businesses in Hickory. I became part of the Downtown Association for the city of Hickory, and I have been part of the Community Relations Council. Taste Full Beans has helped the community, our local nonprofits, and finally, we have a partnership with this wonderful entity that serves our community so well,” he said. “I see this partnership as a venue to help each other succeed and keep current. I will love to see how this project will bring more awareness about how much our city contributes to it citizens and help all of us not take for granted all the wonderful benefits that this city has to offer.
“I hope to see the community support this wonderful project that will generate additional income for the city and will create more jobs at the coffeeshop,” he said. “In other words, the more you support this location the more benefits this community will get.”
Hernandez has more than a decade of experience behind his plans. Taste Full Beans has been part of this community for 12 years.
“Partnering is the biggest thing that we hope to do in this community. We partnered with the Hickory Furniture Mart for our second location, and last year we partnered with Full Circle Arts, a cooperative of artists that have been in Hickory for over 10 years. (Business partner) DW, our staff, and I have been blessed with the community’s support. We have great customers that we are proud to call friends and family. We have developed so many great friendships, and we all have been embraced by this community,” he said. “City Council, the mayor, and the city staff are great supporters of Taste Full Beans, and we are so grateful for this opportunity to be a part of Hickory.”
Hernandez seems to exemplify the spirit of the Catawba Valley’s tendency to welcome newcomers and new ideas.
“We are Taste Full Beans coffeehouse because of Hickory, my home,” he said.