Seattle Community

<span class="lite_member_name">Courtney LeMarco</span>
Courtney LeMarco
Seattle, Washington
Posted by Courtney LeMarco, Seattle, Washington | Oct 09, 2008

Subscribe to The Biznik Community Drive Through Coffee Stand. Good Idea or Bad Idea?

I have a family member (in-law) who has a fully stocked drive through espresso stand. She put the stand together at the beginning of the year but has seen very little success. Now she is in a precarious position whereas her and her partner are no longer able to keep the stand open on their property up in Snohomish.

I told that if she moved the stand to Seattle I would help her with her marketing and find some staff for her to which she seemed pretty open.

I have a lot of experience in the food service industry from my work with Consolidated Restaurants but I'm not experienced in this particular field. I don't even drink coffee, but I know an opportunity when I see it.

Is there anyone with this type of experience that could give me some suggestions or information on running your own coffee stand in the city? I know there's some licensing that needs to happen and obviously location is a big thing... But I want to know what's out there that I DON'T know about regarding this industry.

Considering the financial turmoil that is facing Starbuck's (all the store closures) and Tulleys... Is it even a good idea to put time into something like this?

Your thoughts are welcome.


10 Bizniks have posted replies

  • Interior Decorator | Redesigner:  Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Mercer Island 
Seattle, Washington 
Amy Woidtke (woid-key)
    Posted by Amy Woidtke (woid-key), Seattle, Washington | Oct 09, 2008

    I wonder. Placement is KEY. We have so many coffee places to go for sure but when one is one the go, a drive thru is great.

    Because there are already so many, the first key, I would think, is to be in a high traffic location that some other coffee experience hasn't already dominated.

    THEN, she should do something that no other coffee stand is doing and BRAND HERSELF. IE. the cowgirls coffee stands are known for their super hot (and perhaps semi-clad) baristas. May not be everyone's cup of tea - or coffee, haha - but hey, don't you remember it? And I bet they get hell of tips there.

    My fave stand closed and I don't know why. They were on my way to school at the time and had the best potato and egg breakfast burritos for only 1.50! Plus George and his wife were always full of smiles and happiness. I loved that.

    So if one is going to go into coffee, better make sure you got a solid branding that will stand out. And make sure that location is hot too! (near bus stops, intersections, etc.)

    Good luck!

  • CEO/Chairman 
Seattle, Washington 
Courtney LeMarco
    Posted by Courtney LeMarco, Seattle, Washington | Oct 09, 2008

    Yes.... Placement. I drove down Rainier Ave heading North towards Dearborn and didn't see a single one.

    I thought about the cowgirls thing and considered going in the opposite direction with a male staff, but I get conflicted with the cliché. And we wouldn't want to be just another knock off.

    That however is something I'm sure she can get over depending how much revenue it generates. Breakfast food would definitely have to be in the mix too.

  • Baby Sign Language Classes Seattle  
Seattle, Washington 
Nancy Hanauer
    Posted by Nancy Hanauer, Seattle, Washington | Oct 12, 2008

    Hi Courtney, I also think you need a "hook" that makes you different....and like you said in a way that isn't a cliche. You certainly can take inspiration from others, though. I saw a piece this week about a Seattle-area coffee stand in West Seattle called Red Cup that uses solar power to run the stand. They have made a serious commitment to reducing their carbon footprint by doing this as well as using supplies made from recycled and biodegradeable materials, discounts for hybrid drivers, etc. In this economy, if people are going to continue their coffee habit, they want to justify it and can at least feel better about doing so in an environmetally friendly way, and that's likely helping the coffee stand owner's biz in tough economic times in eco-friendly Seattle. Maybe tap into that niche. I'm sure there are lots of media outlets that Red Cup missed, that would cover your story.

    I remember hearing about another coffee shop (again in West Seattle) that posted photos of single customers before Valentine's Day and then the participants decorated boxes like we did in elementary school and customers dropped valentines in others' boxes if they were interested in them. Cute! Again, a niche market...a shop where singles started hanging out and mingling.

    Let's face it, any new biz is a gamble at this point but I think if you came up with a unique twist and, as Amy said, have a great location, you'd do well. The natives don't seem to be giving up their "joe" completely!


    Hop to Signaroo

  • Interior Decorator | Redesigner:  Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Mercer Island 
Seattle, Washington 
Amy Woidtke (woid-key)
    Posted by Amy Woidtke (woid-key), Seattle, Washington | Oct 12, 2008

    I would SO frequent a stand that had an eco commitment if it were in my area.

    Support local economy, indie biz AND the environment. NICE!

  • Nutritionist 
Bellevue, Washington 
Marta DeWulf
    Posted by Marta DeWulf, Bellevue, Washington | Oct 20, 2008

    We're interested in visiting funky or unusual drive-through coffee/expresso stands in the Seattle area and on the Eastside. Please let me know if you know of any. Thanks !

  • Internet Sales Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Howard Howell
    Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington | Oct 20, 2008

    I think one of the best designed and most inviting is the Bigfoot Java chain. They have numerous locations, mostly though-out the south sound area. ...Howard

    Disclaimer: I have consulted with them in the past. You are welcome to pick my brain if you desire.

  • Shea Butter Spa Products 
Lynnwood, Washington 
Rebecca Wood
    Posted by Rebecca Wood, Lynnwood, Washington | Oct 21, 2008

    I also like Bigfoot!

    You need a niche market... and NOT one based on sex (bikini/males etc.). I find those types of stand so disgusting and would never go to them nor do I know of any middle age women that would.

    You need to consider who your target market is.

    I totaly agree that if you could base the stand around being eco-friendly that would not only cater to us 'greenies' but perhaps the younger crowd also, who is slowly becoming aware of keeping our planet viable.

  • Real Estate Consultant 
Kirkland, Washington 
Mark Tillman
    Posted by Mark Tillman, Kirkland, Washington | Oct 28, 2008

    One thing that no one has mentioned is the coffee itself.

    Did you know that coffee comes in different grades... 1 being the best and 28 being the worst grade?

    Do you know what grade of coffee Starbucks or Tully's serves? I do.

    Have you ever tasted a Grade 1 coffee? Would you like to try some?

    If people don't like the coffee that is being offered then they will go somewhere else to buy.

    Let me connect you with someone in the industry.


  • Life, Prosperity, and Small Business Coach. Author. Speaker. Trainer. Singer/Songwriter. 
Seattle, Washington 
Kate Phillips
    Posted by Kate Phillips, Seattle, Washington | Oct 29, 2008

    Something more unique than just "coffee" would be nice.

    There's a little espresso and donut drive-thru in Monroe called "Darci's Dinki Donuts" (not sure about spelling.) They make these tiny donuts (right there) that are insanely good and quite addictive. Thank God I don't live TOO close!

    You'd have a line....

  • publisher 
Edmonds, Washington 
Ray Weisgerber
    Posted by Ray Weisgerber, Edmonds, Washington | Oct 06, 2009

    This is a year-old thread, but maybe it's never too late to add a comment. I'm just plugging a book that might help, because of it's unique content. Check out Driven to Espresso at my website,