A coffee franchise named after the donkeys of Hawaii’s Kona Coast is targeting national expansion after a new owner rebuilds the brand.
Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii, its namesake being the donkeys that bray as they hauled tons of coffee beans up the rugged volcanic mountains and whose strong but stubborn nature has led people to call them the “Bad Ass Ones,” is ready to make some noise of its own under owner Royal Aloha Coffee Company. CEO Scott Snyder, who brought together a group of private investors to purchase the assets in July 2019, said a new in-store logo, packaging and design, as well as a restart of operations and support for franchisees , attract operators.
âWhat we’ve inherited is incredible brand recognitionâ¦ and great coffee,â Snyder said of the purchase of the Bad Ass Coffee Company of Hawaii franchisor. “What they didn’t have was really a lot of infrastructure to develop a brand regionally or nationally.”
With an investor group including executives from Verdeam, a Colorado-based real estate investment fund, Snyder said the self-funded improvements can be seen in the design of the West Jordan, Utah store, which opened in June 2020 and showcasing a revitalized brand identity. . Bad Ass Coffee of Hawaii started on the Big Island in 1989 and began franchising in 1995.
âWe’re working really hard to reestablish our roots in Hawaii,â Snyder said, noting that the previous owner had moved the business to Salt Lake City; its corporate headquarters are now in Centennial, Colorado. âWe really wanted to embrace our Hawaiian roots. We really embrace our âohanaâ, our family and an aloha spirit. “
In stores, that spirit takes the form of lush floral accents, the subtle use of surfboards and other visual cues “that don’t yell at you, but sing at you,” Snyder explained in an interview. in November at Restaurant Finance & Development Conference.
âWhen you walk into our stores, you are going to receive a big ‘Aloha!’ behind the desk.
Standard cafes with drive-thru are 1,650 square feet; the most recent model is a stand-alone dual drive-thru kiosk of about 700. The cost of the investment is $ 304,500 to $ 620,000.
Further adjustments were evident in the brand’s 24-unit menu, which was “largely unchanged for 20 years” and did not include a feeding schedule. “It had been left to the franchisees” to offer food or design their own seasonal specials, Snyder said. The franchisor introduces breakfast sandwiches – served on King’s Hawaiian bread, of course – and revamps a “big latte list” as it refines the beverage lineup.
âEverything we do, we’re looking for that connection that makes it uniquely Bad Ass and uniquely Hawaiian,â Snyder said of the brand’s touchstone.
Snyder, whose background is in marketing and business consulting and who has worked with brands such as Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, Jamba and Church’s Chicken, said he and the management team have spent a lot of time in collect feedback from existing franchisees. These franchisees “have thrived despite the lack of support from previous owners,” said Snyder, and will now benefit from redesigned training programs, implementation of brand standards and consistent operations throughout the system.
Bad Ass’s new management team is packed with experience, he said, including VP of Marketing Chris Ruszkowski, who has helped lead marketing efforts at McDonald’s, Quiznos and Einstein Bros. Bagels, and the COO Susan Sauer, who has spent the past 18 years at Wendy’s. .
Bad Ass Coffee, of course, competes with the big chains Starbucks and Dunkin ‘, as well as Scooter’s, Biggby, PJ’s and The Human Bean, all leading in unit counts. What sets Bad Ass apart, Snyder said, is the name and the product.
âIt’s the name that would bring you in and it’s the coffee that keeps you coming back,â he said. âWe don’t buy cheap coffee. We buy great coffee and we roast it to perfection. Bad Ass is aimed at high-end consumers who are familiar with Kona coffee and at a younger audience, who loves the vibe, he added.
Franchisees, existing and new, are responding to changes. Kathi Hammac, owner of Beach Coffee headquarters and three Bad Ass Coffee stores in Florida, recently signed an agreement for two more stores. And the company signed its largest development contract this fall, for 18 new stores in Tennessee. The franchisee, Rothwell Development Company, based in Nashville, is expected to open 12 units in the greater Nashville area, four in Knoxville and two in Gatlinburg. Multi-unit agreements have also been signed in Arizona, New Jersey, Kentucky and Texas, among others.
Average net sales were $ 432,747 in 2020, according to Section 19 of Bad Ass Coffee’s Franchise Backgrounder, with best-performing store sales at $ 826,369 and worst-performing at 95,859. $.