New owner Hicks to make
no changes to The Attic
She buys cafe after George family ran it
for the past 50 years
(June 2021) – Julie George Truax came to Madison, Ind., from Houston during the summer of 1971 to help her grandparents in their new venture, a business they called “The Attic.” Just four months later, her parents moved to Madison. Truax started her sophomore year at Madison High School.
“My Mom, Judy George, was The Queen. People came in just to see her. It was so important to her to make you feel like this was your place to come. It was never a job to her. It was just what she did and who she was,” Truax said.
Truax and Chip George, one of her brothers, have always been involved in the business, located at 631 W. Main St. Her children, Brent Warren, Emily Curry and Carrie Truax, as well as her niece, Jennifer Miles, grew up working in the business.
Truax said her mother continued to be involved in the business until her death in September 2020. “I realized then that when Mom was done, I was done,” Truax said.
Photo by Sharyn Whitman
Megan Hicks (far left) the new owner of The Attic Coffee Mill Cafe, poses with Chip George, Julie Truax and Brent Warren. Hicks plans to keep the cafe running the same.
Still, the decision to sell this year was hard. The “For Sale” sign was posted on Monday, Jan. 4. Madison resident Megan Hicks called Realtor Brenda Eversole on Tuesday morning. She and her family wanted the whole business: the name, the recipes, the roaster and the gift shop at King’s Daughters’ Hospital. They worked through all the details so quickly that by Friday they had worked out the deal.
The new owners are Norm and Rose Marie Roberts and their daughter, Megan, and her husband, Brandon Hicks. They all came down to The Attic Coffee Mill Café to have lunch that Friday after finalizing the purchase plans. Chip George turned to his sister, Julie, and said, “They are the perfect family for this. They love this store.”
In spite of all the COVID-19 challenges, business has been good this year. “Madison has become a very popular tourist destination, but we are dependent on Madison, not tourism. We have always done things to keep connected to Madison,” Truax said. Every one of the current customers that comes in wants to talk about the transition. They want to hear first-hand from the current owners that things will stay the same, she said.
Truax, George and Warren will continue to work in the store over the next few months to ensure a successful transition. In addition, Jessica Beck, 31, who currently works at the KDH location, will become the new manager at the downtown cafe. Beck said, “I’ve always been impressed with Julie. She takes a lot of pride in our products and customer service. My new role will be to help things go as smoothly as possible. This is a great fit for me.”
To further re-assure current customers, Megan said, “I love the Attic – I go a couple times a week now. Everything is going to stay the same. That’s the way I like it. I want this to be my career through retirement, just like Julie and her family. Our daughters are just 2 and 4 years old now, but they will be able to help in the future.”
Truax was able to raise her children in the business. She was able be a working mom and to work closely with her parents in the business. “Training Megan is like having another daughter,” Truax said. “She wants the same freedom in caring for her family. My kids all say ‘I would not be who I am without the years of working at The Attic.’ Even when the kids were so little, they could just see over the top of the counter, they could hand a bag to a customer. It became a big part of our business for Mom and me. People asked about our family. We watched their kids grow up.”
Megan and Brandon graduated together in 2008 from Madison Consolidated High School. After college, it was just natural to return to Madison. Both will continue working in their current full-time jobs. Megan is the Manager, Corporate Financial Planning and Analysis at Grote Industries Inc. She has been meeting with Truax on Mondays and Saturdays to transition all of the supplier accounts and learn about everything from Truax. Megan will be onsite at The Attic on weekends. Brandon will continue to work at VSG. He will also be learning to roast coffee, handle normal maintenance and other behind-the scenes activities.
Norm said he is looking forward to working part-time. “I am willing to do whatever is needed. I can be a courier between locations, help at the register, clean tables or sweep the floors. We’re local; we’ve always loved it here. We are looking forward to building our legacy here. We are also looking forward to being more involved in the downtown Madison community.” They plan to renovate the upstairs as a rental or Airbnb in the future.
While the new owners are ramping up to assume full management of all of the food preparation and retail operations, Truax is planning her own transition away from the day-to-day. “I have always been very dedicated to the Main Street Program and will probably continue with that. I have been volunteering since the 1970s when it started. Madison was one of the first three Main Street programs.”
Personally, Truax said she is looking forward to spending time with her husband, Larry, who is already retired. They will finally have time to travel to visit their grandchildren who live in Indianapolis and in South Carolina. “We are not moving,” she said.
George is interested in continuing in the coffee industry, possibly doing equipment repair. Warren, 38, plans to build on his success with the Liege waffle he perfected at The Attic by operating a food tent at the Farmers’ Market and other festivals.
Valecia Crisafulli, immediate past president of Madison Main Street, praised Truax’s many contributions to downtown Madison. “Julie has a heart for Main Street. She has volunteered countless hours, even after her term as board president ended. She also has a mind for business. It’s been exciting to watch The Attic grow and evolve to meet changing market needs downtown. That is a key reason why the business was able to transition successfully when the owners were ready to sell. Even though the business just celebrated its 50th anniversary, it remains immensely popular as a downtown gathering place.”
Truax is proud of the consistent quality of the food at The Attic Coffee Mill Café. Almost all of the food is prepared in-house from her recipes. “It’s important that everything always looks and tastes the same,” she said. “The secret to our 50 years of success at The Attic is dedication and planning. Our parents and grandparents instilled it in us. We also try to be on the upswing of new trends. We were the first coffee shop in town. We had to be innovative – we are not the same as we were in 1971.”
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