Sept. 29, 2006 Unable to find new investors, Kings' Caribbean Coffee will no longer be roasting Caribbean-grown coffee beans. Owing to the departure of founder Charles E. King several years ago and the death in the spring of major investor Louis Coyne, who ran the business, the company closed its doors Sept. 6.
St. Thomas-based consultant Jade Pratt said Thursday that Coynes heirs did not want to inherit the financial or management responsibilities of the company. He said they lived in California and had no experience with running a coffee company.
He said the company received Economic Development Commission benefits. Pratt said he hoped that the agency would find someone to take over running the company as a turnkey operation.
No one could be reached at the Economic Development Authority. Director Frank Schulterbrandt and acting director Francois Dominique were both off island.
With a facility on St. Croix, Kings' Caribbean Coffee roasted beans grown in the Caribbean. It sold its coffee throughout the Virgin Islands to hotels and restaurants and at its kiosk at the Seaborne Airlines terminal on St. Croix. It also sold coffee via its website.
Another consultant, the Miami-based Otis Jones, said that without proper management oversight and financial commitment from shareholders, Kings had no alternative but to close.
The abrupt closing occurred because we wanted to exhaust every possibility for survival, he said.
He said that the decision to close came down to the last day of operation and that potential investors flew into St. Croix two days before the company closed.
Maria Cenk started working for Kings' Caribbean Coffee around 1998 when the company had a kiosk in King's Alley. She now works at the Seaborne Airlines kiosk, which has new owners.
She said she found it disheartening that the company closed.
St. Croix resident Daniel Gilbride said he's never tasted Kings' Caribbean Coffee, but thinks its a shame a "traditional" business like a coffee company has closed.
He said in his perusal of Internet chat rooms, he's seen some interest in people forming a cooperative to buy the company.
According to an Aug. 15, 2005 Source @Work story, (See "@Work: Kings' Caribbean Coffee"), Coyne invested in the company in 1997. The company had five employees.
Outstanding payments can be made to Kings Caribbean Coffee, 5600 Royal Dane Mall, Suite No. 12, St. Thomas, VI, 00802.
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