Work life of Oliver Wu, owner of Mugs Coffee Shop

Work life of Oliver Wu, owner of Mugs Coffee Shop
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(Note: Our How I Work series is brought to you by AccruePartners – building people, companies and careers by being at the forefront of the staffing and executive search industry).

I find myself in Oliver Wu’s Mugs Coffee Shop all the time. It’s close to my house (next to Portofino’s Park Road location), service is excellent and the internet is lighting fast. Over time, I’ve noticed that Oliver’s customers love Oliver. As do I. So, I decided to ask him how he works — especially since he has a 1-year-old son and I’m sure life is stressful.

Job title

Founder/Owner of Mugs Coffee Shop on Park Road.

mugs coffee shop park road

What do you actually do?

Socialize and hang out.


My commute is about 20 minutes in the morning because there’s no traffic that early. In the evening, it takes me about 45 minutes to get home. I listen to music — a little bit of everything, but mostly jazz.



iPhone 5s

oliver wu coffee iphone

oliver wu mugs coffee shop phone


Lenovo laptop.

Gadgets you can’t live without

I’m a home audio freak. It’s an intense setup. I’ve got a separate listening room. Two big speakers. Record player. Two amps.

What’s your favorite spot for a business lunch?

Well, I really work all the time. I do love the Tin Tin Chinese buffet. I go there with my wife. Excellent soups.

Social media habits

I’m just on Facebook. I use it for myself, not my business. I guess I should use it for my business, but I don’t. My friends started a Mugs Coffee Shop twitter account, but I don’t even know how Twitter works. It’s not my thing.

To-do list manager

It’s in my head. I don’t write anything down.

What everyday thing are you really good at?

Talking. Hahaha. My wife would tell you the same thing.

Best time-saving shortcut or Charlotte life hack

I start the day off early – I wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m., even on my day off. When I started Mugs, I was here all the time working 16 hour days.

inside mugs coffee shop charlotte

Sleep routine

I’ve always been able to run on 4 to 5 hours of sleep. I go to bed around 10:30 p.m. and wake up early around 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.. I also wake up several times a night because my baby boy is teething right now. Getting a ton of sleep isn’t necessary for me.

Where do you go around Charlotte to get away from the office?

I mostly travel to the three souvenir shops that I own in Tennessee. Those are my real businesses, the coffee shop is fun. I’m originally from New York where I lived a while. My parents live in Tennessee and run a wholesale business.

When I was 22, I decided to leave New York and open a souvenir shop to sell the stuff they got at wholesale. Fantastic business. I ended up owning five shops, but I’ve now sold two of them. I used to run them in Tennessee, but now I have a great manager there that runs the shops. I moved to Charlotte because I had a bunch of friends that had moved here from New York and I would always visit to go mountain biking with them.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Donuts. But I shouldn’t have. Haha. I normally have just oatmeal.

If you weren’t doing your current job, what would you be doing?

Definitely not corporate world. I love retail management. Probably work at a place like Urban Outfitters. I’m a people person.

Best job advice you’ve received:

Enjoy what you do.

oliver wu at mugs coffee

What’s the most misunderstood thing about a coffee shop?

Many people think it’s easy. It’s not. You’re on your feet for about 12 hours a day. Friends used to pick on me for not staying out late and partying with them. They don’t understand. It doesn’t bother me though – I get more work done before they wake up in the morning.

Last book you read and movies you watch?

Gave up reading for Lent. Haha. I think the last book I read was Plum Island. It was good. I love action adventure movies. I’m a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, Avengers — those types of action/adventure movies — great for my home surround sound! Haha.

What’s one thing people don’t know about Charlotte that they should?

Mountain biking. Charlotte has incredible mountain biking trails. Most people don’t even know about the Backyard Trails which are literally right here (pointing).

What other Charlottean would you like to answer these questions?

My wife, she’s home taking care of our baby. That’s not easy. And any type of restaurant owners — I don’t know how those guys sleep.

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