Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Midwest coffee chain ‘scooting’ its way to Market Street

Scooter’s is a 650-square-foot kiosk operating as a drive-thru only for coffee drinks, smoothies, teas and breakfast sandwiches and pastries. (Courtesy Scooter’s)

WILMINGTON — Adding to its 500 stores in 27 states, Scooter’s Coffee could have its first location in the Port City by next year.

Site plans for its U.S. Highway 17 N operations are moving through the City of Wilmington’s technical review committee currently. It’s slated to be built at 6851 Market St. beside Walgreens, located adjacent to Gordon Road.

READ MORE: Right ‘On Thyme’: Popular food truck debuts brick-and-mortar on Castle Street 

Scooter’s Coffee has experienced rapid growth throughout the pandemic, due to its quick drive-thru model founded in 1998. There is no on-site dining or patio seating, which helps it fulfill its goal to serve customers within three minutes of placing an order. 

Don and Linda Eckles started the drive-thrus in Omaha, Nebraska, and chose a name — first known as Scooter’s Java Express — indicative of its fast service. The team also honed in on top-notch customer appeal (the brand’s tagline: “amazing people, amazing drinks … amazingly fast”). Linda bought a roll of stickers to attach to cups to encourage customers to have a good day — a tradition that has stuck for two decades. 

Today, the company also has an order function through its mobile app, which offers “smiles” as loyalty rewards offering free coffee and other perks.

A $48 billion-a-year industry, the coffee from Scooter’s is procured from the top 10% of specialty coffee beans worldwide; the company uses Arabica beans sourced directly from family farmers. However, Scooter’s has grown beyond cups of joe. The menu includes blenders (frozen coffee drinks), teas and smoothies, as well as breakfast sandwiches, biscuits, burritos, muffins, cookies and cinnamon rolls.

“Scooter’s also recently released its first-ever ready-to-drink canned flavored lattes,” Ryan Stauffer, a spokesperson from the company, said.

Scooter’s opened almost 150 locations over the last year, including an expansion into the southeast — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. In the winter, the coffee chain also launched a distribution center in Atlanta to help with its blooming footprint, with the goal to reach 1,000 stores nationwide by 2024.

Map of where Scooter’s Coffee kiosk will be located on Market Street. (Courtesy Scooters site plans)

Wilmington is among multiple Scooter’s locations in the Tar Heel State — Wilson, Indian Trial, Smithfield, Fayetteville, Monroe and Charlotte. Owned by Scoot Holdings LLC, out of Denver, N.C., near Charlotte, the kiosk will be 664 square feet and stand 19 feet on 0.67 acres, featuring two service lanes. 

Plans list Texas-based architect GHA Architecture/Development and Georgia-based civil engineers Gaskins + Lecraw overseeing the project. 

Around 15 people will be employed at the site, the spokesperson confirmed.

“New Scooter’s Coffee locations are chosen by a number of factors,” Stauffer added. “A lot of times, the franchisees have a connection to the community. Other times, we see that a community shares our core values. But no matter what the case may be, we see a need for specialty coffee in your area!”

The company partakes in philanthropic give-back throughout the year.

In October, it donated over $200,000 in proceeds from sales of its Courage Cookie — a sugar cookie with cream cheese frosting and pink sprinkles. It was created to raise funds for The Pink Agenda to help with research and awareness in partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

It also offered free cups of coffee to veterans on Veterans Day earlier in the month.

“As Scooter’s Coffee continues its commitment to intentional growth, it’s critical to keep our Core Values of Integrity, Love, Humility and Courage at the heart of what we do,” Mikala Friedrich, vice president of human resources at Scooters, said in a press release.

According to city spokesperson Jennifer Dandron, because of its by-right use in the residential business district, Scooter’s ground-up construction will not require rezoning or entitlement through the city.

[Ed. note: The article has been updated to include responses from a Scooter’s representative, which were answered after press.]

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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