Locals + Culture

What's the Big Idea With Missy Greis

3/13/2024 | Brian Tripoli
Kerri Fukui | Lauren Kerr

There’s a well known quote that’s always resonated with me. It says (and I’m paraphrasing here) every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and knows it must outrun the fastest lion or be eaten; and every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. And so, it doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or the gazelle, when the sun comes up you’d better be running. Such is the life of the entrepreneur and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve felt a keen admiration for those intrepid individuals willing to throw caution to the wind in pursuit of their Big Idea. I myself quit my 9 to 5’er and all its perceived security some twenty years ago (I’m a real estate agent, if you didn’t know), and although I still wake up every morning knowing I’d better be running, I’ve never looked back. 

There’s something so exciting about charting one’s own destiny, yet being a maverick isn’t without its pitfalls.

One of those challenges of going at it alone can be a feeling of aloneness, that sense of working in a vacuum where support and encouragement and feedback can be hard things to come by. The importance of communing (and sometimes commiserating) with other entrepreneurs cannot be understated. 

One such entrepreneurial soul is Missy Greis, owner of Publik Coffee Roasters and, more importantly, one incredibly kind human. She’s also a mother, co-founder of HiveEats, serves on several boards– yeah, basically, an all around badass. For years, we’ve had the pleasure of enjoying Missy’s friendship, her sage advice on compassion and good neighborliness, not to mention all that wickedly divine coffee she pours at her coffee shops. We thought starting our conversations with local entrepreneurs could start with no one else but her.

Some background: Missy grew up in Aspen, Colorado and received her BS in exercise physiology. She moved to Utah in 1997 and quickly began volunteering in local charities where, among other important connections made, met and befriended Erin Mendenhall, then Director of Breathe Utah. Through these relationships and by immersing herself in Salt Lake’s diversifying community, she came up with the idea of creating a safe space for folks from all walks of life who could come together, converse and, of course, drink coffee. Publik Coffee Roasters was born and was immediately successful. 

That’s not to say the road has been nothing but yellow bricks. COVID posed a tremendously challenging time for her. With over 60 employees spread among several locations, life turned into a continuous juggling act keeping her staff working and paid. Add to that, the pandemic caused incredible delays and cost overruns during the construction of Publik Kitchen. 

Built on the very spot, this new building is clean and gorgeous and minimalist in all the right ways. She partnered with Lloyd Architects, and the pair worked on bringing over some of the soul from the old coffee house by reusing some of its original materials. Oh, and the French Toast is to die for.

Missy’s never been a believer in the adage Pay Yourself First. For Missy, caring for her staff first, even at the expense of her own compensation, has always been top priority, and that is a beautiful lesson for any entrepreneur to take to heart. Curious where this powerful sense of community came from, Missy explained it was the people in her early life, her teachers, coaches, and parents, who instilled in her a deep altruism. 

More than anything, Missy considers Publik to be more a community service.

As our conversation wound down, Missy dropped one last bit of knowledge on us. She told us no one is an island, that any entrepreneur who finds success does it by surrounding themselves with smart people, curious people and, most importantly, kind people. Well, if this leading by example needs illustrating, Missy is unequivocally showing us the way.

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