The Great Franchisees: Amy and Dustin Hepburn, BIGGBY® COFFEE, Cincinnati

Category: Franchise Development

The husband-and-wife team recently opened their second location with the fast-growing coffee franchise.


For the past 18 years, Amy Hepburn has worked as a second-grade teacher in Milford, Ohio. Amy’s husband, Dustin, has spent most of his career in real estate, but when he was looking for a career change a few years ago, he found an opportunity that would change both their lives. Today, the Hepburn’s are multi-unit owners with BIGGBY® COFFEE, the 260-plus-unit coffee franchise.


The Hepburn’s discovered the brand through a friend of theirs, also a franchisee with the brand, who posted about an upcoming ownership opportunity on Facebook. Inspired by the success they saw their friend achieve with the franchise, the Hepburn’s put in an inquiry. Three years later, they opened up their second BIGGBY® COFFEE shop, and they are already looking towards their third.


1851 Franchise: Tell us your story – what did you do before franchising?


Amy Hepburn: I am a second-grade teacher in Milford and have been for 18 years. Dustin and I grew up together. We went to elementary school and high school together and got married after college.
Shanna Novosel is a BIGGBY® COFFEE area representative and also a friend of a friend. She opened her own BIGGBY® COFFEE location a few years ago and posted on Facebook about owning your own BIGGBY® COFFEE shop. I’m a huge coffee drinker and always grabbed myself a cup of BIGGBY® COFFEE coffee when visiting Michigan. So, when we saw the post we were immediately interested, but never thought we’d actually go through with it.


Dustin Hepburn: I’ve been in real estate since 2004 working on foreclosures. I operated in a hybrid franchise at the company I was at. We were really busy from 2007 to 2016, but once the market changed, there wasn’t a ton of work. I decided I wanted to get into something different and the BIGGBY® COFFEE franchise system fell into our laps. I’ll be working on the day-to-day operations of our locations.


1851: How did you initially find out about franchising and what was your perception of franchising before becoming a franchise owner?


Dustin: We got into franchising because we aren’t creative types. If you give us the play book, we can run the play. We liked the ability to make changes that we see fit for our own community and stores as they take on a personality of their own.
Franchising has definitely been an entrepreneurial endeavor with a lot of ups and downs, but we wouldn’t trade it for the world.


1851: How did you decide you wanted to be a franchisee?


Dustin: I had always entertained the idea of franchising and thought it would be interesting. The BIGGBY® COFFEE brand came into our lives at the perfect time as I was going through a career change.


1851: How did you perform your research?


Dustin: I did some independent research submitting inquiries on brand websites. I was contacted by a couple of franchise coaches as well. None of the franchise systems we looked at made sense for us. They were either too expensive or were products/services that didn’t excite us like computer fix-it brands and sub shops.
It really helped that we had a relationship with Shanna and got to see her open up her own BIGGBY® COFFEE location as a frame of reference.


1851: Why did you choose the BIGGBY® COFFEE brand? What excited you most about the potential?


Dustin: We love the product and are familiar with it. BIGGBY® is a tight-knit company and the growth opportunities for us were also very attractive.


1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?


Amy: Looking ahead, we’re going to open another location in Q3 of 2021 in Hamilton, Ohio.


1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?


Amy: Lean on your faith.


Dustin: Michael McFall, co-founder and co-CEO of BIGGBY® COFFEE, wrote a book called “Grind” that came out a few months after our first location opened. After I read it, it became a handbook for us and got us through some difficult times. I definitely recommend franchisees read that.
Also, life’s too short to be indecisive. If you’re considering owning a franchise, go for it!


1851 Franchise: What do you do in your personal time?


Amy: We like to go on hikes as a family with our daughter, son and dogs. We also like to stay home and watch tv and movies.





BIGGBY® COFFEE, based in East Lansing, Mich., was started with a single store on March 15, 1995. One year later, and on the cusp of opening a second location, Bob Fish and Michael McFall, on a handshake and $4,000, decided to franchise the concept. BIGGBY® COFFEE’s cultural values of Make Friends, Have Fun, B Yourself and Share Great Coffee help coffee-lovers and the coffee-curious alike benefit from a less pretentious and fun approach to the standard gourmet cafe paradigm. Besides connoisseur-worthy drinks with names like Teddy Bear® and Caramel Marvel®, BIGGBY® baristas provide a unique experience focused on brightening their customers’ day and supporting them in building a life they love. The “Big ‘B’” on the orange background caught on, and today BIGGBY® COFFEE has more than 240 cafes across many states including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Kentucky, and Florida. In 2018, BIGGBY® launched an Area Representative Program and currently has 8 Area Representatives in 6 states.


Cassidy McAloon