Customers line up as they order from the menu. (Photos by P.J. Williams)

Knowledge Perk Coffee Company celebrated the grand opening of its Columbia location this week.

Knowledge Perk is in downtown Columbia, in the Whaley House building, once known as Dunbar Funeral Home, then was the University of South Carolina’s children’s legal resources center.

It’s directly across Gervais Street  from USC’s School of Law.

The shop soft-opened April 13 before its grand opening. The first 100 customers each received a free Knowledge Perk gift card. 

This is the fourth Knowledge Perk location and the first outside the Charlotte, North Carolina, area.

Columbia was never a city the shop originally considered when the company opened its first shop in the chain, in Fort Mill. 

A customer from the Fort Mill store, who is a Columbia resident, recommended having a coffee shop in this part of the state because he thought it would be a great fit for everyone.

“Whenever an opportunity comes up, if we can make it happen, then we can make it happen,” said Jacob Weis, creative marketing manager of Knowledge Perk’s Columbia location. “We weren’t specifically seeking out Columbia. But when the opportunity arose, we were like, hey, you know, let’s go for it.”

Charlene D. Slaughter, director of communications for Experience Columbia,  attended the opening and was pleased with her order. She hopes to promote the shop to residents for her next visit.

“I tried the cold brew at Knowledge Perk and wasn’t disappointed,” she said. “I’m looking forward to coming back and to promoting it as a coffee shop to visit as a part of my job” at the visitors bureau.

Ryan Sanderson, owner of Knowledge Perk, said the company also hopes to get involved with the University of South Carolina.

“Now that we got this location here in downtown Columbia opened, our goal is going to be to figure out our customer base here, what do they need, and how (Knowledge Perk) can fill that void,” he said. “And then really start focusing and getting into USC, the campus. Maybe do some license deals with them like (we’ve) done with App State and Winthrop University.”

They also want to follow the local sports in Columbia like they do back in the Charlotte area. 

“We do a lot of stuff with Bank of America Stadium (and) with Charlotte FC (Football Club),” said Sanderson. “So, if we can do something here locally with the (Columbia) Fireflies (minor league baseball team), those will kind of be the next steps for us.”

The shop has high hopes of growing and expanding their business by drawing more students in from the Columbia area.

Knowledge Perk is opening two more locations in Spartanburg and Myrtle Beach. But no opening dates have been announced.

Knowledge Perk is now open in the old Whaley House building on Geravis Street.

The iced latte macchiato is one of the several items from the menu.

Knowledge Perk owner Ryan Sanderson speaks to the media before the ribbon cutting ceremony.