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New owners celebrate one-year anniversary at Alternative Fuel

RAPID CITY, S.D. — It’s a new year, and there is a lot to celebrate going into 2020 — especially for the owners of Alternative Fuel Coffee House who are celebrating their one-year anniversary of ownership of this popular coffee and smoothie spot.

Griffin family in front of Alternative Fuel

Patti Griffin, owner of Alternative Fuel, said she wasn’t looking to buy a business, rather the opportunity “fell in her lap”. Having worked for the previous owner, Griffin already had a passion for the local favorite coffee shop, when the previous owner was ready to sell.

“[The previous owner] kept poking me,” started Griffin, “I was a stay-at-home mom, and unsure of my ability to become a store owner. One day my husband said, “why not?” and gave me wings to fly.”

In Nov. 2018, the Griffins moved forward with the purchase of Alternative Fuel. Griffin, took her time in making changes, learning as much as she could from those who had been there longer than herself. Her first major decision was to make everything from scratch and create seasonal menu options.

“Why would we outsource when I know how to make this?” said Griffin, “All of our recipes are from my house. We make everything ourselves now.”

The menu focuses on fresh, homemade, gluten-free and vegan options as well as the traditional espresso and fruit smoothie bar that locals and visitors alike have been enjoying since Alternative Fuel was established in 2006.

Griffin’s second decision for her business was to expand on the stores focus on providing local goods and services to its patrons. Offering pottery, crafts, art and clothing lines that support other local business.

This includes food items that they are unable to make on their own in the coffee house kitchen, bringing Black Hills Bagels and Great Harvest Bread to their menu instead of a generic brand from a national food provider.

“I try to support small and local [businesses],” said Griffin, “We should support the little guy — and the small business community is so inviting and welcoming.”

The Griffins have incorporated their home and their employees into the décor of the store. This was especially true over this past holiday season, with many of the holiday decorations displayed being made by the Griffin children and staff. One decoration Griffin described was an ornament her store manager brought in that belonged to her late grandmother. “It brings memories and homemade coziness to the business,” expressed Griffin.

This first year of being a business owner has brought the Griffin family closer together. Patti says her husband has had to walk in her shoes, and she has had to walk in her employee’s shoes. She has also seen her son step up and help with the business.

She says the Griffin family has become a lot more forgiving and patient; with each other especially.

“It’s been a rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t change it,” said Griffin, “You know your kids are outstanding when they say, ‘thanks for working mommy’.”

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