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Cornelius News

Cornelius couple brings bakery and coffee shop home

Main Street Bakery & Coffee on West Catawba Avenue | Photos by Jason Benavides

March 9. By TL Bernthal. Sean Flynn has the entrepreneurial spirit.

He’s half of the Cornelius team that opened Main Street Bakery & Coffee on West Catawba Avenue last month. The soft opening was to work out any kinks and get a handle on foot traffic.

Sean Flynn

It’s the fifth shop for Sean and Kalea Flynn, who live in the Diane Shores neighborhood with their children Sullivan, who will turn 3 in May, and Charlie, who is 1, and 4-year-old golden doodles, Flynn and Farley.

Cornelius is baking central

The Cornelius location will also produce all the baked goods for the shops in Huntersville, Mooresville and Denver. The Mooresville shop roasts beans for the craft brand, Disco Coffee, several times a week for the Lake Norman shops.

Kalea Flynn

Opening the Cornelius location was “strategic in the sense that there’s really not a great craft coffee shop on this side of the freeway,” Sean said.

“There are others who do coffee very well, but we do our baked goods and craft coffee to the highest level,” Sean said. “We’re trying to get better every day.”

The Cornelius bakery is about equidistant to the other Main Street locations, so the location seemed ideal to get the fresh baked goods out to all other locations, he said. The shop has a staff of nine, including the manager, baker and baristas.

The Flynns had been looking to buy a bakery for almost two years when Bakery 28 on West Catawba became available. They bought the equipment and lease the space. Sean said the investment is about $100,000.

“It’s easier to set up shop when there’s infrastructure,” the Flynns said.

COVID opportunity

Sean Flynn said he knew the COVID pandemic wouldn’t last forever, and looked to acquire businesses in the South and Mid-Atlantic.

They bought the struggling Coffee Republic in Rockville, Md., and have tripled revenue there. They will be opening more shops in the DC area.

Another COVID acquisition was the Urban Grind in Mooresville.

The pandemic was the opportunity to “buy shops for little or nothing that were fully functional,” allowing the Flynn’s enterprise to grow through new shops and acquisition.

A Ballantyne location is on deck for this summer.

Coffee and co-working

While attending College of Charleston, Sean had an online startup and other entrepreneurial ventures, and went to England right after college, attending business school in London. While in London, Sean saw how coffee shops with co-working space on the second floor worked — and he liked the idea.

In December 2018, at age 34, he returned to Lake Norman where he grew up, and lived in the Vermillion neighborhood in Huntersville. A century-old brick building in downtown Huntersville caught his eye, and the original Main Street Coffee & Co-working in Huntersville was born nine months later.

The building had the right character.  “It’s all about character, what can I do with it,” Sean said. They lease the space with an option to buy, which he said they would exercise.

What’s next in Cornelius?

Kalea Flynn — who handles the operational side of the business, the staff point of contact and HR — said the bakery will soon expand to include cakes and cupcakes.

There are no high-end homemade cakes or cupcakes that are beautifully decorated available in the area, she said. Moms planning birthday parties either bake their own or buy from a grocery store.

Kalea said the bakery will  produce something that looks pretty and tastes great.

Kalea’s career path started as a mental health worker for adolescents at Novant. For the business side, “Sean been a great teacher in that respect.”