Biggby Coffee Opens On Michigan Avenue
Biggby Coffee Opens On Michigan Avenue
Saline’s newest coffee shop is located at the site of the former Cafe Dolce.
By Tran Longmoore, Saline Patch.com
There’s a new destination for coffee lovers in the Saline area.
On April 5, Jeannine Mickeleit opened Biggby Coffee at 6961 E. Michigan Ave., in the plaza that also hosts O’Reilly Auto Parts. Biggby is located at the site of the former Café Dolce. It seats 34 inside and features a small patio outdoors. Saline’s Biggby is also the first in the county with a drive-thru.
The Michigan Avenue franchise is the third for Mickeleit. About 18 months ago, she opened her first store on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor, across from North Campus. Her second restaurant opened on Stadium Boulevard, across from Zingerman’s Roadhouse.
Mickeleit was looking for a place to open another franchise and took notice when Café Dolce closed its doors.
“I really liked the location. There is a lot of traffic and I liked that this location had a drive-thru,” she said.
Biggby Coffee is open each weekday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. The drive-thru opens 30 minutes before the store opens. Of course, coffee is a staple on the menu. Each day, Biggby brews the Biggby Best medium roast, a French roast and a hazelnut decaf. That selection is accompanied by a rotation of coffees that includes another medium-dark roast, a flavored coffee, and a decaf French roast or Biggby Best.
Michelet puts her coffee up against anyone’s.
“Biggby invested in a costly roasting process that makes our beans better. They’re never bitter and you never get that burnt aftertaste that you find at some places,” she said.
Biggby also features a wide range of sweet and creamy lattes, like the Carmel Marvel which, Mickeleit said, is one of the most popular beverages.
“All of our lattes are served hot or frozen,” she said.
Biggby also carries an assortment of traditional café beverages including café au lait, espresso and hot tea.
For those looking for a refreshing beverage other than coffee, Biggby offers a variety of Crème Freeze Smoothies in 18 flavors ranging from Banana Berry to Red Bull.
Biggby also features a variety of fresh baked goods each morning and snacks throughout the day. For customers looking for something more substantial, Biggby offers Bragels—meat and cheese bagel sandwiches.
Mickeleit is a native of Hamburg, Germany. She worked in Germany as a financial advisor and took a leave of absence to do some traveling. She arrived in the United States 13 years ago and, unexpectedly, wound up staying.
“Sometimes life decides for you what happens,” she said.
But not always.
Mickeleit worked as a teacher, teaching German at Okemos High School and teaching German in Education at Michigan State University, where she was working on her doctorate. She decided she didn’t like the political climate surrounding teaching and wanted to go into business for herself.
“When I decided I wanted to be self-employed, I knew it wasn’t in retail. I wanted to do something that was a fit for me. I checked into fast food restaurants, but I didn’t want to go home smelling like oil every night,” she said.
She looked into Biggby Coffee and found the right fit.
“I love coffee. I studied a lot at Biggby and met with students there. I loved the product and I loved the personality behind the counter and I really enjoyed the friendly attitude of Biggby,” she said.
East Lansing-based Biggby was founded in 1995 by Bob Fish and now has 128 stores in six states. The company has expanded rapidly. Mickeleit is expanding her small coffee shop empire even faster. She said she’s the only person she knows of to open three Biggby stores in 18 months. How has she managed such a rapid expansion?
“It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work. But I am driven and I am an overachiever. I also love what I do,” she said. “You have to enjoy what you do if you’re going to do it 15 hours a day. You can’t pretend.”
One of Mickeleit’s favorite aspects of the job is interacting with customers.
“I’ve had customers come into the Saline store and recognize me from the Stadium store and that’s great. We want to be recognized. We want to make the connection with the customer,” she said.
One of the keys to her success, she said, is her employees. Mickeleit said her desire to succeed breeds loyalty and trust in the workplace. She said she has great employees.
“The way I approach business, I lead by example. I don’t expect employees to do anything I wouldn’t do. They see me here and they know how hard I work and I think they respect that,” she said. “And they know I respect them. Some people might think this job is easy. But it’s not. It takes a certain type of person who is friendly and outgoing. And it can also be very stressful, especially in the mornings, when you are balancing the drive-thru and the customers coming in the doors.”
Mickeleit said she didn’t necessarily expect to work 15-hour days when she got into the business. But it’s not something she laments.
“This is not an easy business. Stores just don’t take off like that,” she said, snapping her fingers. “Did I expect 15 hour days? Not necessarily. But you do what you’ve got to do to make it work.”