Associate Managing Editor
Every morning Ruston resident Ron Salmon, 76, starts his day before sunrise. He washes up, gets dressed and, like many other Americans, indulges in his daily dose of coffee.
Many Rustonians, including Salmon, rely on Crescent City Coffee for their daily fix.
“We have a crew that comes in at 6 a.m. every morning,” he said. “The management and service is just so great.”
Since Crescent City Coffee first opened its doors in 2003, the locally-owned business has become a hot spot where residents and students go to work or socialize.
The coffee house industry has proven to be a struggling business in Ruston. In the past, there have been a few other coffee houses that have opened their doors to the community but closed down after only a short period of time, leaving Crescent City and Starbucks as the two prominent names for the industry in town.
Sarah Keil Waller, the owner of Crescent City, said she believes the business’ success can be attributed to their focus on making customer service the top priority.
“It’s our willingness and desire to mold our menu and service to what our customers want and do it with a genuine smile on our faces,” she said. “It’s not easy, but we love it.”
Waller and her husband James Waller have owned Crescent City since 2010. Before the couple took over ownership, Sarah Waller had been working at the coffee house since 2007. In 2009, they were granted permission to run a catering service through the business, which saw such success that the servicesnowballed into acquiring ownership of the coffee house, Sarah Waller said.
Despite the changes Crescent City has undergone, the goals and culture have never changed, Sarah Waller said.
“I wanted to keep the place open for all of the regulars I had known for so long,” she said. “Crescent City is a Ruston landmark, and it was important to me to keep that going.”
Salmon, who has lived in Ruston for 51 years, said the good service and friendly environment are factors that encourage him to walk through the coffee house doors every morning.
“They have such good employees,” he said. “They know all of our names and that makes it special.”
While many of the regulars are local residents, the university has also been a strong influence on the Crescent City culture, Sarah Waller said.
“We have a lot of support from locals, which is crucial to success in any college town, but we can’t overstate the impact of Tech students,” she said.
Mary Kate McFarland, a sophomore business major, and Shawn Turja, a sophomore finance major, said they frequently visit the coffee house to study or when they simply want to spend time with friends.
“You can come here and hang out, study or just relax,” McFarland said. “They don’t care if you are here for hours at a time.”
Turja said he prefers to study at the coffee shop because the environment provides a balance for socializing and studying.
“It’s got a fresh college environment,” he said. “You don’t have to stay confined in the library or your room.”
Crescent City is well-known on campus for its 24-hour operation during finals week, and because the hours have seen such success in the past, the business has made the 24-hour schedule permanent.
“We wanted to go the extra mile for our customers and build off of the success of our long-standing finals week service,” Sarah Waller said. “As Ruston natives, we also knew there was a need for safe and friendly late night options for students and young adults.”
McFarland said the late-night hours and calm environment add to what makes the shop so enjoyable.
“There aren’t many places you can go and just hang out except for bars,” she said. “The environment here allows you to interact and just relax.”
In addition to its new extended hours of operation and a made-to-order menu, Crescent City has also begun to host art shows for the North Central Louisiana Arts Council and late-night music events for local artists. Waller said they have also begun to work closely with local organizations and businesses for fundraisers and other promotions.
“Everything we do boils down to making the best customer experience possible,” Sarah Waller said. “I can’t say that other shops didn’t do the same, and I support any locally owned business, even if it’s ‘competition’ to Crescent City, but we believe in our product and are passionate about the community.”
Email comments to rha...@latech.edu.