Global specialty coffee house Gloria Jean's Coffees is heading back to its roots as part of the gourmet chain’s aggressive plan to brew up franchise-focused growth in the United States.
A powerhouse in the specialty coffee arena with more than 900 locations worldwide, Gloria Jean’s Coffees will open at least six shops in the Chicago area, the birthplace of the brand that was founded in 1979 by company namesake Gloria Jean Kvetko. The newly inked area development deal covers greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, with a mix of drive-thru, street front, and kiosk mall locations.
“We couldn’t be more excited to expand the brand presence where it all started,” says Laina Sullivan, director of franchise development for Gloria Jean’s Coffees parent company Retail Food Group. “Our amazing guests have such brand loyalty to Gloria Jean’s and to offer them more convenience and additional locations will only help grow the brand and give our guests more options.”
For new franchisees Raed Naser and wife, Noor Musleh, the development agreement represents a homecoming. At age 15, Musleh’s first job was working at the Gloria Jean’s Coffees in Southlake Mall in nearby Merrillville, Indiana.
“Gloria Jean’s is what made me LOVE coffee,” Musleh says.
The pair, married just over a year, looked far and wide to research industries for a franchise investment. As an original pioneer of the flavored and hand crafted coffee revolution, in an industry with staying power, Gloria Jean’s Coffees was the perfect fit.
“I always told myself that I will only put my money in a business that I love waking up to every day,” says Naser. “Gloria Jean’s is a coffee brand that I always loved and I consumed their amazing specialty coffee and unique chillers on a day-to-day basis. I have done my homework and talked to many coffee chains. I can certainly tell you that Gloria Jean’s is the only one I felt to be a good fit for my family and me.”
With rising trends in habitual coffee consumption and a growing demand for high-quality espresso coffee, Gloria Jean’s Coffees sees the U.S. as an untapped market for the brand. The brand-dominant mall retailer plans to broaden its presence nationwide with the addition of iconic mall spaces and stand-alone, high visibility, street-front locations.
“We have built our business by being in shopping malls,” Sullivan says. “As we see the consumer demand and purchasing habits shift, it’s important for us to evolve and bring our guests the convenience that they want. Coffee is a daily habit for many Americans and we want to make sure that our loyal Gloria Jean’s guests and new guests have an opportunity to have the best coffee experience possible – when and where it’s convenient for them.”
Franchise investment costs range from $200,000 for a kiosk to $450,000 for a drive-thru location. Those costs include a $25,000 franchise fee, construction of the interior space, exterior signage, all furniture fixtures and equipment, plus some soft costs associated with training for first-time franchisees, adds Sullivan.
“We walk ‘hand in hand’ with the franchisees and provide support with real estate/site selection, construction management, and every phase of getting the store open,” says Sullivan. “We consider our franchisees to be partners and want them to be successful every step of the way.”
Once on board, franchisees benefit from the system’s proven methods in all facets of operations including training, marketing, procurement, and menu innovation. Franchisor support is strong from the start, says Naser.
“They made sure to make us feel at home, as well as explained every step of the process, along with the product itself,” notes Naser. “As soon as we finished discovery day, we were 100 percent confident that Gloria Jean’s had the three P’s I was looking for in a franchisor: People, Product, and Process.”
Naser and Musleh’s full circle return to the Gloria Jean’s Coffees franchise as a former employee turned franchisee speaks to the longevity, brand loyalty, and passion for the brand.
“These are the kinds of things we love most about Gloria Jean’s Coffees,” Sullivan says.
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