According to the kids at Cranford Talk…Java’s Brewin’ and Cosi, two of the very few retail occupants at Cranford Crossing are planning to close.

While my family has eaten at Cosi a few times, I have stopped in at Java’s Brewin’. I thought about writing about one visit but held back.

Since I wanted them to succeed.

As a Cranford resident with a business, I will root for and try to support other local businesses. Part of it is community spirit, part of it is the desire to keep merchants in convenient locations so we don’t have to schlep all the way to Route 22 for everything, part of it is the knowledge of throwing everything you’ve got into a business and dealing with the torture of seeing if it will work or wither.

I’d love to see Java’s Brewin’ succeed, but the anatomy of one visit will maybe shed some light on what would put it on life support.

So one day, I walk in. I am in a little hurry. I want a large coffee (I’m not big on lattes) and a bagel with butter. I get a cup. I turn around to the coffee canisters. (A personal peeve – I hate the coffee canisters…if I wanted hours-old coffee at the complimentary breakfast bar at the Grand Rapids Hampton Inn, then fine, but not in a true coffee bar.)

My bagel took longer to create than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I didn’t even have it toasted…just slap some butter on there and let me go. My usual deli visits in NYC are around 90 seconds total. This kid took longer to methodically slice the bagel. Butter was carefully spread over every square millimeter of bread surface. The top was then replaced slowly, very slowly and carefully. Then at least three Sav-A-Rap sheets were deployed for proper folding and tucking.

Okay, to the cash register. $4.00. That’s not right. I pay $2.25-$2.75 in NYC at a decent deli (the cart guys are $2.00) for the exact same thing. I look at the menu board and mention the prices. Void. Now $3.50 after the cashier figured out that I was charged for Cream Cheese.

I haven’t been back.

Maybe I’m not their target demographic. Maybe they don’t want to be in the quick coffee & a bagel business and want the lingering cappucino drinkers. Maybe they’re just too close to Rock’n Joe, the Dunkin Donuts across from Drug Fair, Cranford Bagel, Cranford Deli, and of course, Cosi and that’s just in 100 yards.

I am saddened when a business doesn’t make it. I worry sometimes that I may not recognize when I need to change my business to ensure longer-term survival and then go into the unrecoverable death-spiral. Java’s Brewin’s moment to recognize the need to change may have been months ago, or maybe before they even opened.

Good luck, guys.