METUCHEN – It was more than the “cup of joe” experience during a visit to California that eventually led Brian Glass to open Biggby Coffee.
“I went out to visit my father for 10 days and happened to visit the same coffee place not thinking much of it at the time,” he said. “On the last day something felt off when I was leaving.”
Glass realized on the last day of his visit, the only difference he made was rather than visit the same coffee place, he went to a national brand coffee shop.
The more he thought about it, Glass said “it was the experience” that drew him back to the same coffee place.
“I was just not another cup of coffee,” he said, adding the staff was a big part of the experience taking their time walking him through the different coffees, lattes and cappuccinos offered and remembering his coffee order each day. “I walked out feeling better than I walked in.”
That experience led Glass to set the wheels in motion to open up a coffee place of his own. After much research, the Biggby Coffee franchise model stood out in terms of moral values built into the business model, the same moral values instilled in him growing up in Highland Park.
“I’m not just here to run the store, I’m here because I care about the moral values and wanted to bring something into the community more than just another chain,” he said. “We want the customer to leave happier than they came in.”
Glass studied biology at Rutgers University.
“I love biology, but couldn’t see myself going into the field,” he said.
From 2011 to 2019, Glass changed majors and schools studying air traffic control and real estate in Florida and traveled all around the world, including Israel and England, in attempts to find his path.
His path always brought him back home where his family still lives. On his journey to find his path, it was family members who have always told him he was a person who people seemed to gravitate toward. It was also family members who told him to do something that would make him happy.
Those two things put together, Glass said he found his perfect fit, per se.
After figuring out he wanted to open a Biggby Coffee location, Glass knew he wanted to find a place to open back home.
Before opening, he stood outside the student center at Rutgers University taking surveys of what makes a person’s coffee place. It came down to the baristas and the service of not being “just another cup.”
And after much due diligence in an already saturated coffee market, he jumped at an opportunity at a location on Middlesex Avenue in Metuchen. It is the first Biggby Coffee location in New Jersey.
“The expansion in Metuchen has been unbelievable,” Glass said, adding the close proximity of the train station and sense of community made Metuchen the perfect location.
The opening of Biggby Coffee on Sept. 1, 2020, had been two years in the making. The novel coronavirus pandemic delayed opening plans.
“We were midway through construction when a ban of non-essential construction was placed down,” he said. “We had to go back to the drawing board and rethink how to get coffee to the customer. We offer curbside pickup, which we initially weren’t going to offer.”
Glass said when they opened they did a lot of marketing on social media, mass marketing of coupons, and community outreach with the help of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance (MDA). He said MDA also helped with advice on furniture layout and signage.
In the future, Glass plans to hold a ribbon cutting with the community. Customers can also look for a trivia question on the stores’ social media pages on Instagram and Facebook with chances to win prizes.
Biggby Coffee has grown from one location in East Lansing, Michigan, in 1995 to more than 260 locations across the country. Biggby Coffee offers a wide variety of drinks from mochas to tea lattes and food including a bragel sandwich. The menu evolves with each season, Glass said, currently featuring pumpkin spice and apple cider.
Biggby Coffee is located at 660 Middlesex Ave., Metuchen.