The Franchise: East Lansing, Michigan-based Biggby Coffee is a gourmet coffee chain that serves scratch-made coffee drinks, teas, smoothies and seasonal specials, as well as light breakfast fare. Founded in 1995 by co-CEOs Bob Fish and Michael McFall, the brand has grown to more than 240 locally owned and operated shops in 13 states, including five in Wisconsin. Milwaukee natives and longtime friends Curtis Grace and Keith Washington recently opened their first Biggby Coffee franchise location, in Franklin.
Grace, who now works as a full-time branch manager at U.S. Bank, and Keith, who owns two Milwaukee-area real estate companies, met while working in customer service at AirTran Airways. As they embarked on separate career paths, the two continuously talked about opening a business together.
“We just kind of came across each other and realized we had like minds and like ideas,” said Grace.
Grace and Washington were first introduced to Biggby Coffee at a franchise expo in Rosemont, Illinois. As they learned more about the brand, their interest grew. One evening in October, they drove up to Biggby’s Wausau location to try the product and meet with the area rep.
Grace and Washington sign their first franchise agreement as Cream City Ventures, LLC. They soon began hunting for real estate.
“The whole Milwaukee market is a prime location for Biggby because it’s different – it’s a higher-end specialty brand that’s fun and inviting,” said Washington.
Biggby Coffee’s newest shop and drive-thru opened at the Shoppes of Wyndham Village, 7770 S. Lovers Lane Road, Franklin. It’s the first of five franchise locations Cream City Ventures plans to open in the next five years. With a second franchise agreement already signed, Grace and Washington plan to have a location secured by the end of the year.