coffeehouse franchises

Brent Finnegan -- July 16th, 2007

coffeeRecently, the Daily Grind franchise in H’burg was broken up, and a few months ago, we got yet another Starbucks.

Today I was driving down South High and saw this at the old laundromat across from the former HHS building. It’s being converted into a Greenberry’s Coffee and Tea Co. The small franchise is based out of Charlottesville.

With all the JMU students traveling between Memorial Hall and campus, maybe that Greenberry’s location will work out just fine… But are franchises really the way to go? Out of all the coffee/teahouses in town, the only one I really enjoy spending time at is not a franchise.

15 Responses to “coffeehouse franchises”

  1. Eli says:

    I think it’s under different ownership now, but Annie Roo’s in Dayton was how I like my coffee shops: small, high quality, friendly, quiet, and cheap.

  2. Josh says:

    I’ve been to the Greenberry’s in Cville. It’s a nice place. I’m not so sure about the new choice of location in Harrisonburg. I hope they do well. Any new coffee place is better than another Starbucks, right? I’m especially happy to see a Virginia-based chain.

    I don’t mind supporting franchise businesses. If Earth & Tea is a wonderful success and they open a few more locations, I wish them well.

    Sorta related side-note:

    I regularly listen to podcasts of a radio show based out of NJ called “The Restaurant Guys.” They recently had on the CEO of Bon Appetit Management Company (, a company that runs 400 cafes at universities, companies, etc.:

    This company stresses a lot of what I consider to be good values, such as a menu built for the needs and desires of the community, sustainable farming and a directive to source ingredients locally. Is it possible that some chains are better for the community than a locally run restaurant? Maybe so.

  3. cook says:

    of course, the real issue is whether the coffee shop serves quality coffee that has been recently roasted and properly brewed. it is usually hit or miss, and ususally miss.

    i’m not a coffee snob – i’ll drink it all – but i appreciate great coffee. in answer to your question, franchises seem to start with the goal of great coffee and any-profit-makes-us-happy but tend to grow comfortable with mediocre coffee in the pursuit of high profits.

  4. Jim Duncan says:

    I love Greenberry’s; it’s my coffee shop of choice in Charlottesville. If only we could get one here in Crozet!

  5. Frank J Witt says:

    On a recent Happy Hour detour to our friendly neighboorhood Applebee’s we were dissapointe that the chefs back at central command found it necessary to hire a “CHEF” to come up with menu ideas…alot of differnet and what-I-would-consider Bizarre combonations…especially some weird burger combos. Now, as I stated before the chains ability to try stuff that might not work, is one of its advantages. However, this guy they brought in as the “CHEF”…I don’t care to remember his name, was not pleased with the way his picture turned out on the cover. So, once th emenu went to print then to each chain that was changing their menu…they had to reprint the menu cuase this clown didn’t like how HIS own picture turned out. Maybe he forgot that he ok’d the pic in the first place.

    The main reason we decided not to try and get a franchise in town was the flexibility. We can do anything we want and put things on special that YOU want. Not just whatever has been sitting in the freezer or frig taking up space. Also, when something like the turkey fiasco happens, we are flex enough to take the time to make 40 meals a day plus delivery to the farm. No other restaurant they contacted would even consider this.

  6. finnegan says:

    cook, you’re “not a coffee snob” in the same sense that I’m not a movie snob.

  7. cook says:

    snob: one who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.

    what are you saying, finnegan, you lowbrow folgers-swilling punk?

  8. Karl Magenhofer says:

    Frank, you hit the nail on the head. Be what you are and let certain foods be what they are. I like Applebee’s, but I’m not going there to see Wolfgang Puck’s latest creation. Somehow I doubt it’s on the foodies list either. Why does everyone want to ruin hamburgers with some sort of foo foo topping? Go to Jim’s Drive In in Dayton, order an Intimidator, eat it and you’ll know what a hamburger is supposed to taste like.

    Kinda makes you wonder about coffee when you go to a coffee shop. American’s must not like the stuff considering all the flavorings, creamers and other junk we can put into it. I’m also not a fan of going to a place where I can’t walk up to the counter and simply say “I’d like a large coffee.”

  9. Emmy says:

    “Go to Jim’s Drive In in Dayton, order an Intimidator, eat it and you’ll know what a hamburger is supposed to taste like.”

    And while you are there congratulate Jim on 30 years of business. Not too many restaurants that aren’t a part of a franchise last for 30 years. The key is sticking to what you know.

  10. finnegan says:

    Why, is Foldger’s not gourmet, cook? ;)

    Actually, I’m more of a Twinings Earl Gray sipper, myself.

  11. kestrel9000 says:

    You’d be amazed at how poorly franchise coffeehouses fare in Vermont.
    No, on second thought, you probably wouldn’t.
    In the whole state, there’s only 4 Starbucks. 1 in Burlington, 2 in Williston, 2 in South Burlington.
    Yet there’s easily half a dozen independent coffehouses in Montpelier alone.

  12. Barnabas says:


  13. Josh says:

    There’s an article in today’s DNR about the shop:

  14. finnegan says:

    From the looks of it, this place is open for business now.

  15. finnegan says:

    Coffee lovers: check out this review (and the blog — it’s about roasting coffee).

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