Brothers, Coffee Shop Owners Expand Business
By Lara Bricker
Hampton Union Tuesday, April 14, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
[Lara Bricker photo]
HAMPTON -- Many people had the same reaction when they first heard about Nick and John Birmbas' decision to open a drive-through coffee hut.
They told the brothers they were crazy to think their local Jumpin' Jack's Java could ever compete in a market saturated with Dunkin' Donuts and Starbuck's.
"I like crazy, crazy's good," Nick Birmbas joked this week as he stood in the drive-through on Lafayette Road in Hampton.
The local company, which has plans to become a national franchise, is preparing to open a second location inside the Hampton House Hotel. While many businesses are struggling to stay afloat in the current economy, the coffee business was up by 33 percent in 2008, Birmbas said. He attributes the increase to their customer-focused approach and product.
The new location is set to open April 26, and will build upon the Jumpin' Jack's Java brand in an express café style shop rather than a drive-through. The café will include an expanded menu, comfortable couches and wireless Internet access. The brothers are already looking toward their third location, called Jumpin' Jill's Java, which they expect to open at another Seacoast location.
With three different types of coffee shops appealing to different types of business owners, the local entrepreneurs say they will be in an ideal position to launch their franchise.
"As soon as we opened up, everybody was like 'Where is this franchise from?"' Nick said. "You're looking at it — right here in happy Hampton. This is where we'll stay and grow from here."
The concept is simple, the brothers say, in that they aim to provide a top quality product, fast, with a personal touch. They and their staff, including Mary Griffin, know most of their customers by name.
"We don't treat customers as customers; we get to know 95 percent of our customers by name," Nick said. "It's more family oriented than anything. You're not just a number here at Jumpin' Jack's."
Marketing Manager Drew Smith agreed.
"It's a unique experience coming through the drive-through," Smith said. "It blows my mind how many people Nick knows by name."
The existing location is a double drive-thru, which was designed to allow customers to get their coffee without waiting. The coffee is all premium New England Coffee Roasters brand with six different flavors offered at all times.
Unlike some coffee shops, Jumpin' Jack's doesn't add flavor shots to coffee, but prefer to brew flavored beans instead. The brothers also offer a selection of homemade whoopee pies, muffins, cookies, bagels and breakfast sandwiches. The only baked good not homemade are the doughnuts.
The brothers used to own Lena's Seafood in Hampton, which is next door to their current coffee drive-thru. After selling Lena's in 2004, Nick started thinking about coffee. He attributes his interest in a coffee business to watching how Dunkin' Donuts grew as a franchise.
"I said 'someday we'll get a coffee shop open,'" he said.
With the idea for a coffee shop brewing in his mind, Nick started to think about a good name. In the end, the name came to a promise he made to a fellow Hampton business owner decades before when he first opened Lena's.
At the time, Jack Lessard owned a Pontiac car dealership next to Lena's. Nick never forgot the kindness that Lessard showed him when he first opened and cleared some parking spaces in the car dealership for the restaurant's customers.
The brothers got to know Lessard, and at one point Nick told him, "Someday, I'm going to have your name up on Route 1 in Hampton."
Lessard, who is 83, is a frequent customer to the coffee shop, where he often stops to visit through the back door.
"He's 83 years old, he goes 12 to 14 hours a day and doesn't stop at all," Nick said, adding there are no plans to make the local man the official mascot for the business. "Jack is so low-key; I would never do that to him."
For more information go to www.jumpinjacksjava.com.
At a glance
Jumpin' Jack's JavaLocations: 836 Lafayette Road, soon-to-come -
inside the Hampton House Hotel,
333 Ocean Boulevard, Hampton Beach
Hours: 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday