Creativity Keeps the Lights On

Photo by Andrew Neel on

Madison, WI –

Over the last year we have been inundated with stories of businesses closing and people losing jobs due to the pandemic, but Patrick Downey was determined to not become one of those tales. As owner and operator of The Victory, an independent coffee shop here in Madison, he has made a career and a life by running his business ethically, creating solutions and always with a sense of community and service. So when foot traffic slowed during the winter at the height of the pandemic, Patrick turned to an unlikely source of revenue for his family – his own art.

Like many of us, Patrick had played around with paints and painting as a hobby over the years. It was never really for anyone other than himself, just something that he enjoyed to blow off steam in his off hours, minimal as they are, what with running the business and raising a family and all that entails. This past winter, he turned to his hobby to help make ends meet. He seems to have struck a chord.

“In the past few months I’ve made a lot more money selling art than I have selling coffee,” Patrick said to Madison Magazine. There is no danger in Patrick closing The Victory to pursue a career as an artist, though. The whole point of the shop is to foster a sense of place and to create a space where people can come together. To that end, phone use is frowned upon and customers are encouraged to talk to one another – there’s even no Wifi. Throughout the last 20 years in the coffee business Patrick has maintained this core ethos – community.

“In urban settings, people need to interact with each other. What I’m talking about is community. … It’s just people, getting to know each other,” Patrick said in an interview a few years back with Being truly part of a place is central to The Victory. Patrick will often greet customers by name, a feature he carried over from his days running the shop in it’s previous location in Brooklyn, NY. They only accept cash, but if you’re a little short don’t worry about it. The Victory has a policy of eat-now-pay-later, if need be.

So if you happen to find yourself in Madison, stop by The Victory. Patrick will certainly be there, greeting customers and holding court, with many of his personally created artistic pieces on display around the space. Live music will be coming back soon, as will other events supporting local artists as the state further re-opens. All of this was made possible by creatively attacking the problems facing his business, and finding a way to keep serving his community throughout the pandemic. Well, isn’t that nice?

Patrick’s art can be found on Instagram

Patrick can be found, most days, at The Victory coffee shop, 2710 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI.