Leyla Dam, owner of Lorca in downtown Stamford, started the coffee-and-churros shop in 2012, leaving a career in architecture to jump into entrepreneurship. Since then, Dam has established a firm presence on Bedford Street and has dreams of growing even further. She shared some insights into her daily life, inspiration and coffee-making skills in today’s edition of the Advocate. Here’s a little extra from her Q&A.
On her love of food: “I’d spend my computer time daydreaming about what I’d cook that night in my tiny apartment and what I’d pick up from the union square farmer’s market.”
On her staff at Lorca: “I’m really proud of the people who work at Lorca. I feel as though they all bring something unique to the work environment and to our customers. I can say that I genuinely love everyone I work with.”
On her role models: “I think Danny Meyer [CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group] is a very good role model when it comes to the service industry. He makes a point of telling people when they are doing something correctly in the moment. I find that if you tell someone generally ‘you’re doing great’ it isn’t as effective as saying ‘I really appreciate the way you cleaned the grate even though I didn’t ask you to.’ It’s all about being specific. I also look up to Thomas Keller [chef/owner of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group]. When you walk into Bouchon [Keller's California bistro], it’s a beautifully well-oiled machine. The baristas talk you through every action, the line moves incredibly quickly, and the croissants are some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s obvious that he knows how to make sure people are on task but still happy. He should write a book so that I can pick up a copy.”
On the daily hurdles of running a business: “Not everyone is going to love everything that we do at Lorca, but as long as we make sure that they don’t leave completely unhappy or unsatisfied, we’ve done our job. As long as we stick to making products we love and are proud of and do it with a smile, there will always be enough people who do love Lorca to keep us in business.”
On how to make a good cup of coffee: “At home to make the best cup of coffee possible, the best advice I can give is to buy good beans and grind fresh. Also, make sure that the coffee itself was roasted less than a month ago. That’s important! The longer the coffee has been on the shelf, the more flavor it has lost.”