A Scooter’s Coffee franchise location is coming to Grand Forks in October.
Don and Linda Eckles founded Scooter’s Coffee in 1998 in Bellevue, Neb. The name comes from the original owners’ idea that customers will be happy if they can quickly “scoot in and scoot out” with their coffee. Now, it has hundreds of locations across the United States.
Keith Homstead and John Robertson, owners of the new Grand Forks location, hope to have their coffee shop ready for opening day on Oct. 11. It is located at 1111 S. Washington St. in the old Taco John’s location.
So, why coffee? Homstead said it’s a relatively low-risk venture, if you can call opening a business low-risk, for one very simple reason:
“Everybody loves coffee, right?" Homstead said. “It’s one of those things. It never really goes out of style. You always see these restaurants and fads that come through, and very few of them actually stay for a long time. With Scooter’s, they’ve been opening them up, and they have a very, very low failure rate.”
This is not Homstead's first business venture. He created his company Alloy Engineering in 2016, which provides HVAC services, building modeling, project and construction management, bid packages and more.
Homstead met his Scooter's co-owner John Robertson when they were employees at the same factory. Robertson was a factory controller, and Homstead worked as an engineer. From there, they began talking about their aspirations to be business owners.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic didn’t stop their efforts. In fact, the location's success as a Taco John's during the pandemic played into the decision to open a coffee shop there.
“To be honest with you, that was one of the big deciding factors that clinched this for us,” Homstead said. “The numbers and the way their model is designed is that they’re made to be a drive-thru kiosk. We decided to do a coffee store just because the opportunity presented itself to us by buying the Taco John’s."
Seeing other Scooter's locations thrive during the pandemic was one of the biggest reasons why Homstead and Robertson were so sure of opening a full-service coffee shop.
“That was big,” Homstead said. “We knew we needed to be in something that was either delivery, drive-thru or as contactless as it can be, so this was a great choice for us. Ultimately, we’re hoping that Scooter’s Coffee will be a springboard for other ventures that we’d like to go after, as well.”
Homstead had to visit a Scooter’s Coffee location and attend training to open a new location. He learned about all the things the business sells, including what he said surprised him the most – a wide variety of drinks other than just hot coffee, including iced coffee drinks, smoothies and more.
“They also have waffle sandwiches,” Homstead said. “I would almost compare it to an Egg McMuffin. Everything they serve there is really designed around speed. That’s their big driver. With the numbers I was seeing, it’s usually a minute to a minute and 30 seconds by the time you place your order and when you have your food and are on your way.”
Homstead also divulged that this new location will hopefully not be the only one he and Robertson opens in the area. They plan to open two new locations – another in Grand Forks and one in Crookston.
“The problem is that everybody from out of state is buying up (Scooter’s Coffee) locations right now,” Homstead said. “There’s one that’s getting built in Fergus Falls, and there’s one in Thief River Falls. I believe those are locally owned. Everywhere else, there’s a lot of people coming out of Colorado and buying places out in the northern Midwest.”