Tim Sanchez, a decorated Navy veteran, formed his love for coffee during his time as a tech startup co-founder in 1999. “I told my wife that when I grow up I wanted to open a high-end cafe featuring really great coffee,” remembers Tim. After his most recent deployment in Afghanistan, Tim decided it was time to shake things up and pursue his passion. He is an Oakland native (he grew up in East Oakland), so they knew that Oakland was where they wanted to open their business when the opportunity arose in 2016. Tertulia Coffee is the combination of both Tim’s passion for coffee and his wife Maria’s passion for art: a coffee bar and art gallery.
While a lot of coffee shops showcase local arts, Tertulia Coffee has a separate gallery space. The design of it flows well, and the art has prominence. Nothing at Tertulia looks like just wall decor, giving the space a unique elegance and comfort. It’s truly a community space, and the staff (seven employees plus Tim) have created a welcoming vibe for everyone. “We want our space to be inclusive because we opened it for our neighbors,” says Tim.
Maria is an artist and both she and Tim are active in the Bay Area’s Latino art scene. Maria curates the gallery (called Sanchez Contemporary) with a focus on promoting and showcasing local artists of color. “A lot of artists of color lack the education and credentials to get access to traditional galleries,” says Tim. “We want to promote them, and give the community access to their great art.”
Tim and Maria came to Veteran Launch for working capital and to finish up their construction at 1951 Telegraph in Uptown. Tim advises, “Even if you don’t think you need a loan if you can get one, you should. It’s difficult for startups to get access to capital, but that money is your protection. Without it, the unexpected costs and delays can put you out of business. Even if the money just sits in the bank, it’s your security in the early years.”
Tim and Maria shopped around for financing for Tertulia Coffee. “What was great at Veteran Launch was they didn’t act like a bank. It was a transparent relationship, and we worked together to get the loan package together so we could get funded as soon as possible. I wasn’t treated like just another customer, which made it a better experience,” explains Tim.
Tertulia Coffee is looking to grow in their second year. They are about to break even, and Tim is hoping to double their customers served in the next 12 months.