Community spotlight: Little Goat and Peach Blossom co-founder Olivia Brinton

Co-Managing News Editor

The little blue and green house on the outskirts of East Campus is typically buzzing with chattering and studying students who stop by to grab a drink from the Little Goat Coffee Roasting Company between classes.

Before the coffee shop became a hotspot for the university community, the location was home to various other local businesses, such as Newark Natural Foods and Switch Skateboarding, which have since relocated. In 2017, it ended up in the hands of 27-year-old Olivia Brinton, who filled it with funky furniture and freshly roasted coffee beans.

“This building has a really interesting history of always having a successful business,” Brinton said. “And so it kind of felt like it felt like a blessing to us when we got in here.”

Four years later, Brinton found herself opening a second business just five minutes down the road: The Peach Blossom Eatery.

“The inspiration of opening Little Goat was seeing this lack in the market of freshly roasted coffee in this area,” Brinton said. “I sort of had that same feeling when it came to The Peach Blossom Eatery. We had had issues at Little Goat finding a good bakery to consistently get pastries from and I was like, ‘I just need to open a bakery so I can have baked pastries.’”

Despite her entrepreneurial spirit, Brinton received her undergraduate degree in political science, with a minor in poetry, at a small school in North Carolina. After graduating, she worked for a handful of nonprofits and businesses of varying degrees of success but struggled to find a career path that felt right for her.

Brinton’s passion for brewing stemmed from barista jobs she has held in the past, along with a general fondness of the beverage. However, it took her years to realistically consider making a career out of it.

“When it came time to consider my options for my future, I was like, ‘Okay, am I just going to be this fine dining bartender who makes good money but doesn’t have much meaning in life?” Brinton said. “Or am I going to actually make something that brings significance to my existence?”

Ethan Grandin/THE REVIEW

While the degree she obtained is far from business, the decision to be a business owner was not just a post-college, flip-switch lifestyle change for Brinton. She started working at the age of 15 and spent frugally throughout her teenage and young adult years by living with her parents when not at school, driving a “beater” and staying in more frequently than going out.

“If it’s something that you truly care about and that you are willing to do eight hours a day, every day, unpaid, then your business will be successful,” Brinton said. “But if you open a business because you just think it’s a good idea or you think it’s a trend and you don’t have any passion behind it, people will know that.”

Brinton then explained that she thinks both Peach Blossom and Little Goat have been prosperous due primarily to two reasons. First, customers can see how much time and care goes into the job simply by tasting the product and, second, customers have the opportunity to witness a staff that seems to care about what they do.

“Something that I am proud of in my businesses is that they each have an identity that is reflective of the town in which we operate,” Brinton said, adding that a peach blossom is not only the namesake of her restaurant, but also the official state flower of Delaware.

As plans to build high-rises are finalized and new apartment complexes surround the older buildings of Newark, Brinton expressed occasionally feeling as though she and the Little Goat family are in the children’s book “The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton. In the story, a small cottage is built in a place with barely anything around it, but it watches as the land becomes home to some shops, then a bustling town and then a noisy city. As changes occur on every illustrated page, the original cottage remains untouched and preserved, albeit crowded on either side.

Embracing the mindset of “The Little House,” Brinton makes clear her appreciation for the town that enables Peach Blossom and Little Goat to flourish, no matter how much surrounding businesses change.

“I have no desire to open businesses in towns that are not Newark,” Brinton said, smiling. “I think that when I think about my future, if I were to open a third business, it would be a third business in Newark, and not a second Little Goat in another town. I really like this town and this town seems to like me. We’ve got a good thing going on, so I would like to keep it that way.”

Originally posted 2023-05-18 15:00:00.