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May 2nd, 2014

by Total Food Service

“Life is Bene” with Unique Coffee Franchise Opportunity


Let’s face it.  We’re used to getting our coffee in a black place with a lot of wood and glass and easy chairs, from people in green aprons and a lady with flowing long hair inside a green circle somewhere up high.


But if a new coffee brand has anything to say about it: and they do…“LIFE is BENE.” You will now be able to get something new with your coffee. Respect. Honor. Hospitality… aka SERVICE.

Caffe Bene, the number 2 Coffee chain in the world, with over 1500 outlets is coming straight from South Korea to provide consumers with a whole new way of buying and enjoying their coffee.

“The idea grew out of the Korean culture,” says John Barry, Director of Franchise Development for Caffe Bene.

“The Asian culture is historically a very respectful one, and that philosophy grew into businesses there, including the coffee industry. 

Chairman and CEO Kim Sun Kwon saw the opportunity, researched it, and opened the first Caffe Bene in 2008, “to put those respectful ideas into play." 

What can you expect at Caffe Bene? “Initially, it’s welcoming the guest, offering a free sample of their freshly baked pastries, telling them about the new specials and loyalty program and thanking them when they leave. It’s a simple gesture of respect and hospitality for their frequenting our business.”  Barry, who has been called a “visionary brand builder,” has spent years doing just that for Quiznos, Amazon, Party City, Yogurtland and other top franchises, and is now helping to grow the Caffe Bene brand here in the U.S.

But you can’t do that without service oriented people. Retail is detail. Barry’s is also helping the company find qualified franchisees that fit the mold. “We want a franchisee who’s qualified, who has retail experience, is an extrovert, and knows the meaning of service. Match all those together, and that’s the Retail Magic of Caffe Bene.” 

Coffee is a $30 billion industry, and since New York City has the most coffee drinkers it only made sense for Caffe Bene to locate here. “With Manhattan’s insatiable appetite for coffee, it was a no-brainer,” says Barry. “We’re going to bring that culture, that respect, that vision, to the consumer. We have our look, our own bakery, the knowledge and experience and our own model for success.”  

Barry says the brand, which opened its first store at 49th and Broadway two years ago, has enabled the chain to showcase its award winning coffee blends (light and dark), which are grown in Brazil. Medium roast brings out the original taste of the coffee and minimizes any unnecessary flavors or bitterness. In addition Caffe Bene’s menu features Belgian waffles, authentic South American Mojitos  and Italian gelato. We have stores on five different continents and we're taking the best from each.
Caffe Bene believes that there is a whole new coffee culture out there: especially the millennial generation, those who are in the 18-33 age bracket and who are at the center of a new coffee culture in the US and abroad. They’re smarter, more demanding and Caffe Bene is opening their eyes and bringing them into an intellectual environment that’s a lot different than the traditional coffee house” he says.

“We are giving the consumer a choice. They will make a conscious decision based on the service, hospitality and respect we offer them Barry explains. 

Right now the company’s goal is to create awareness for both consumers and new franchisees.  “We feel the benefit of a franchisee system versus company run is the $400,000 commitment to the business the franchisee is making and who will stress those service elements more regularly, than an employee who’s paid by the hour,” he says.

Barry’s hoping Caffe Bene will attract those who share a similar mind-set. To do that, the company’s is opening Caffe Bene College of Coffee. “It’s an institution where new franchisees can get their PHD in state of the art coffee brewing and sophisticated service oriented coffee retailing. That diploma will hang proudly on the walls of Caffe Bene outlets separating us from other coffee houses. It certifies we have the experience, service and products they want.”
Barry isn’t shy about taking on Starbucks. “We painstakingly researched all the pluses and minuses Starbucks made over the years. They have been a phenomenal learning tool for us. Starbucks is a great company and they had a great run. But I believe their loyalty program is suspect, their entry into serving alcohol will hurt rather than help down the line, but most importantly their service is out of touch with the needs of today's very busy customer.  We analyzed all their successes, and we’re going to make it better.

Barry admits growth is a major challenge in Manhattan. “Rents are through the roof, and competition for the very best sites is intense.  Positioning is everything in Manhattan. We’ve licensed almost 80 locations already in metropolitan New York. 26 locations are currently under construction. Our newest locations will be opening soon in Hoboken, NJ and Great Neck on Long Island.

Caffe Bene is looking at another 80-120 units throughout the 5 Boroughs so the whole area will have a total of 160 units in very short order. “We plan to branch out to southern New Jersey, Suffolk and Westchester as well. Our mission is to grow to about 600 in the U.S. and between 8000 to 10,000 stores worldwide by 2020,” Barry says. Caffe Bene operates in over 16 countries including the U.S…LIFE its truly BENE.

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