For the past four years, TCC alumna Robin Simmons has been warmly greeting customers and neighbors at her business, 17 Hands Coffee.
The coffee spot is a favorite for residents and is located in the Virginia Beach Kempsville area. Robin and her staff create and serve sweet treats, specialty coffees and teas, quiches, scones and cinnamon rolls that sell out by 8:30 a.m. on the weekends!
This month, the community gathered as Robin opened Robin Simmons Bakery adjacent to 17 Hands Coffee, expanding the business with the bakery, more espresso machines and additional space for gathering.
“I want this to be a gathering place for all backgrounds, ages, and religions,” she said. “I want everyone to come here and get to know their neighbors.”
Robin got the idea to open the business while visiting a friend in Los Angeles, California. “We went to one of her favorite coffee shops and it was amazing. That’s when the seed was planted,” Robin said.
Mayor Bobby Dyer helped celebrated the expansion with a ribbon cutting and some encouraging words.
“We are excited to see businesses thrive and grow like this one. We are here to celebrate your success and continued success,” Dyer said.
Dyer encouraged attendees to try the chocolate cake, the best he’s ever had, just as Robin presented him with a cake to take home.
Robin also spoke to attendees and thanked her team and family for their support.
“When I left my job at Inside Business to do baking full time, I never imagined this. It’s my dream and more,” she said. “I’m so grateful for my neighborhood and our customers and friends.”
She also thanked her vendors and partners and the Virginia Beach Police Mounted Patrol for being there. “We are all about horses here!” she added with a laugh.
Robin earned a business degree from TCC and is using those skills to run her own business now.
“It’s helpful on the job to be able to speak to people with some knowledge under my belt,” Robin said. “And specific classes like accounting, business law and public speaking have been important for the journey.”
Her shop is located in a plaza that she lovingly calls “birthday corner” as there is a local creamery, the Sundae Scoop and gift store, DIY Treasures and Gifts, and of course, Robin has cakes for every occasion.
Robin has a vision for expanding to a second location on a five-acre lot with open-air seating and a drive-through for those in-demand lattes and cold brews.
“This has been a long-time coming,” Robin added. “But you can’t leave the earth without doing what you love!”