Same Coffee – only the name will change


By Mary Radigan
The Grand Rapids Press

 

COMSTOCK PARK — Biggby Coffee will start showing its colors Monday when the first shop to assume the Beaner’s Coffee franchise’s new identity opens its doors.

 

East Lansing-based Beaner’s announced in September it would change its identity because the name was considered derogatory to Hispanics.

 

The new store at 4575 West River Drive NW is the first to tout the Biggby name and logo. Similarly named shops will soon follow:

  • On Dec. 10, a Biggby will open at 1215 Fuller Ave. NE, owned by Kathy Brooks.
  • A third shop, owned by John Najar, will open Dec. 17 at 3910 Chicago Drive SW in Grandville.

 

All will feature free coffee on opening day.

 

Existing Beaner’s shops are expected to finalize the naming transition early next year, including 13 others in the greater Grand Rapids area.

 

The term “beaner” refers to the variety and amount of beans in Mexican dishes, and is regarded as a slur to describe people of Hispanic descent.

 

Company owner Bob Fish said he chose the Beaner’s name as a reference to coffee beans and something easy to remember when he opened his first coffee shop in 1995.

 

As the chain grew, Fish said he increasingly heard comments about the Beaner’s name and took “a hard look” at changing it, despite the franchise’s successful brand recognition.

 

“I have not regretted making the decision, and it has created a lot of good dialogue,” Fish said. “The transition to Biggby has been awesome, and we haven’t had anyone say they won’t come back to our stores.”

 

Fish has 82 locations in nine states being changed to Biggby Coffee by the end of January. Another 79 stores are being opened under the new name. He is spending more than $1 million on the conversion of existing stores.

 

The sales impact won’t be known for about 18 months, “until everything is in place and operating fully as Biggby,” Fish said.

 

Antaya, owner of the new Comstock Park Biggby, has two other locations in transition from Beaner’s: one at 4750 Cascade Road SE, the other in Portland at the site of his father’s grocery store, Tom’s Food Center.

 

A fourth store will open at Michigan Street and Fuller Avenue NE in early spring.

 

The Comstock Park store has 18 employees and will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

 

The shop features drive-through service and a variety of coffees, frozen drinks and teas, as well as a selection of pastries and breakfast bagels.