July 30, 2020

Out on Front

young alumniImpact


Growing up, Sean Powers never lived in one place for too long. Powers moved around a lot since his father was in the Air Force. Now this University of South Carolina graduate calls Columbia home and is working to build community along the river with The Front Coffee and Tap.

The building is nestled in the CanalSide apartment development overlooking the Columbia Canal and Congaree River. The establishment opened its doors in May of this year and offers coffee, tea, local craft beer, wine and locally sourced pastries.

The opportunity to run this business came during Powers' senior year. The Beach Company manages the apartment complex and was seeking someone to move into its retail space. The company reached out to staff at the Darla Moore School of Business for suggestions and Powers was recommended for the endeavor.

The Riverfront is a popular outdoor attraction in Columbia and Powers sees The Front as the perfect addition to the already bustling area.

“We have a direct access down to the Riverfront so if you’re going down there it’s very easy to grab a beer or a coffee after spending time there,” he said.

In the few months being open, Powers appreciates the value of a good team.

“We have a fantastic team here and I would not be able to do any of this without them," he said.

That teamwork is strengthened from his experiences at South Carolina leading the entrepreneurship club from three members to forty, building connections and professional networks in the Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity and serving on the executive team for the TEDx club at South Carolina.

Running a business seven days a week, Powers has also come to appreciate the people that come in and out of the apartment complex and Riverfront Park.

“I always love meeting people, talking to them, hearing their story and learning more about them,” he said. “You learn so much that you wouldn’t otherwise.”

The layout of the building has people in mind with various seating arrangements made for different settings from studying, to lounging, reading, conducting meetings and enjoying beverages and treats either inside or on the esplanade overlooking the river.

From the very beginning, the vision for The Front was to be more than just a coffee shop or a tap room, but a place to build community. The establishment has already held Jazz Nights on the patio and plans are in the works to eventually host trivia and game nights.

The effort running this business is what Powers views an investment in a city he gladly calls home.

“The people I’ve met through this journey reinforce my view that Columbia is a great place to be,” he said. “There’s so much opportunity in Columbia, especially for young people coming out of UofSC. The city is growing very quickly but it’s still small enough and easy enough to meet people and I enjoy being part of this growing community.”

As the first residential space in the CanalSide complex, The Front is leading the charge in spurring growth in that area and Powers will continue to draw on his South Carolina experiences in running the business to create a greater community along the river.

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