Although delayed by the COVID-19 outbreak, Jose Parada plans to open the Jacksonville’s first Lucky Goat Coffee Co. cafe franchise in July.
It’s the first franchise for Lucky Goat Coffee Co., which has five locations in Tallahassee along with a cafe on wheels, the “Cold Brew Bus.”
The cafe is at 12620 Beach Blvd. in the Kernan Square shopping center across from Tamaya Market.
Parada planned an April opening, but it stalled as the pandemic slowed the building permit process and build-out.
While the franchise is new, the relationship between Parada and Lucky Goat Coffee Co. owner Ben Pautsch goes back 15 years.
Parada started working for Pautsch in 2005 and in 2010 he started the Lucky Goat coffee-roasting company, offering wholesale coffee beans to coffee shops and stores. It has more than 350 accounts across Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The business expanded with its own cafes and retail coffee offerings.
In 2013, the company split, with Pautsch owning Lucky Goat Coffee Co. and Parada owning First Coast Espresso LLC, a wholesale coffee equipment distributor with commercial repair services and specialty coffee product sales.
First Coast Espresso is at 3653 Regent Blvd., about 1½ miles east of the new franchise. “We set up coffee shops with equipment, training, products and menus,” he said.
Now they are back together with the franchise cafe.
“Lucky Goat was ready to expand and test out their concept outside of Tallahassee,” Parada said.
He said the cafe menu and drinks will follow the concepts of the Tallahassee stores, featuring cold coffee brews and outsourced grab-and-go pastries.
Pautsch said Lucky Goat Coffee has a cult following in Tallahassee and he wants to promote its brand recognition and test the market in a new market.
“Franchising Lucky Goat Coffee in Jacksonville is a logical next move for our company to expand our brand into familiar markets. Partnering with Jose as our first franchise of Lucky Goat Coffee was an easy decision since we already have a long-standing relationship together and he possesses knowledge of how we do business,” he said.
The Lucky Goat name, as described at the website luckygoatcoffee.com, is from a legend about a goatherd who noticed the animals had extra energy after eating certain wild berries. The herder then ate those berries with seeds that were coffee beans, “which is why we can thank those lucky goats for the delicious drink we have today.”
Parada said the COVID-19 pandemic impacted both the Lucky Goat cafe opening and the First Coast Espresso business.
“When the shutdown news came and we did not know what was going to happen,” he said.
First Coast Espresso business dipped about 50%, then rebounded the first week in May to “start doing normal business,” he said.
The fourth week of May “has been crazy for us with businesses that needed service and a lot of pending coffee shops that were about to open back in March, “Parada said.
“We did not have to do any drastic changes as far as employees,” he said. He has four full-time workers.
He said a federal Payroll Protection Program loan “was a big plus to help keep all the employees and make up the gap of lost business in April.”
The nature of the business helped during the shutdown, “even though people were not buying equipment, we were still doing some product, it kind of worked out,” he said.
“Our relationship with roasters, manufacturers, our repair technicians and the provision of specialty coffee products puts us in a unique category of a one-stop shop,” he said.
“A bottle of syrup can lead into a piece of equipment or other service and vice versa, so we structure the business to be successful even if we are not selling equipment, service will be up or distribution will be up, so its a good combination,” Parada said.
First Coast Espresso mostly works in the Jacksonville area but also serves Gainesville, St. Augustine and Savannah, Georgia. As a vendor for Maple Street Biscuit Co., it followed the restaurant to Tennessee and the Carolinas after Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. bought the chain in October.
The Tallahassee Lucky Goat Coffee Co. has 10-to-12 employees and operates 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. The Jacksonville location hours may be extended to coincide with Publix grocery store in the shopping center.
By: Scott Sailer