Launching a Quick Service Retail Business


Kevin Frey, from vagabond and Delta Airlines bag checker to successful entrepreneur and owner of Puritan Coffee & Beer

Before starting his quick service retail business in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Kevin Frey was a glamping vagabond for 2-3 years while working at Delta Airlines as a bag checker. The things you’ll do for incredible travel benefits! Kevin and his better half, Rebecca traveled to several destinations in North America, South America and Europe to experience culture, food, drink and the people.

It was during this period in his life that Kevin discovered his passion for coffee and craft beer. That would later ignite his love for bringing people together over great experiences. Curiosity transformed into enthusiasm which culminated in working part-time at a local coffee shop in Fayetteville to learn the art of coffee roasting, brewing and serving.

Why were you drawn to coffee and craft beer? “Coffee and beer have stood the test of time through our history as humans. Some of my most long lasting friendships have been formed over a coffee or beer.”

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The opportunity

His personal journey led to the creation of Puritan Coffee & Beer, a place where people gather for delicious specialty coffee and craft beer in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas. Before Kevin opened the first Puritan Coffee and Beer at 205 Dickson Street  “there was not a craft beer specific venue that didn’t feel like your traditional smoke filled bar in downtown Fayetteville.”

Fayetteville is a university town. The University of Arkansas, the State’s largest university shapes its bustling economy. When classes are in session thousands of students dramatically change the town’s dynamics. “The opportunity was staring me right in the face. Our options for a place to gather, where quite limited at that time, shared Kevin.”

“I remember walking downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas one night thinking to myself who would not want to spend time in a place that offers delicious specialty coffee and craft beer in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere? For a lot of people, coffee and beer is like a ritual, typical bookends for their day.”

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Know your market

“When the doors of our downtown Fayetteville location opened on December 12, 2014 the response from the community was super positive.” Puritan Coffee & Beer’s downtown location is 3,000 total square feet including outdoor seating. The property is a staple in downtown Fayetteville which formerly housed famed local brands including Ozark Natural Foods (a local food co-op), Ozark Mountain Smokehouse, Nightbird Books and Hammontrees. “The building has lots of history and character which shows through.” Kevin happily chuckles  “Over the last 4 years, I’ve been consistently amazed by the community and how we have been accepted into the downtown area. We get to serve incredibly coffee and beer to the greatest city”

The successful launch of Puritan Coffee & Beer propelled Kevin to open a second and larger location in Uptown, Fayetteville. “Our Uptown location is in a brand new building. A little bit more polished with the same design focus – more white, more wood and concrete. The big difference is our clientele, who are young professionals. However, gathering people over great experiences with coffee and beer remains to be the brand’s mission.

“Our customers love coming to Puritan for their first morning cup of coffee and a bite before making their day happen. A big segment of our customers come to us to get work done, relax with a book or hang out with friends in between classes or wind down at the end of their day.”

Puritan Coffee & Beer second location in uptown Fayetteville, AR is a haven for young professionals and remote workers.

Designing the guest experience

The space is our backdrop. We believe in the adage of doing more with less.  Our shop design, aesthetic and menus all speak to simplicity. We don’t have TV’s or anything that takes away from human interactions. We want Puritan to be a haven in the middle of a crazy world, a place that you feel like you belong and can connect with anyone in the room. Kevin and his team made a conscious effort to craft the guest experience by answering the question “what would I want to see, do and experience in a space for me to come back every day, every week and stay for hours?”

Beyond the backdrop of the unique and gorgeous light filled and airy space, delicious specialty coffee craft beer and food, Kevin leans on technology to offer guest amenities and services to his customers. Kevin chose Square POS for a few reasons:

  1. Square POS does not look like a bulky typewriter, the new Square hardware is simple and sleek on the counter next to our beautiful espresso machines.
  2. Super easy to train and onboard a new location and new team members – our young baristas held an iPad when they were at least 2.
  3. The retail technology and solutions ecosystem of Square is bar none

Square’s ecosystem of solutions make it easy for business owners like Kevin to find and work with third-party solutions that specifically cater to the problem/challenge he is trying to solve, without changing his existing infrastructure and operational workflows.

Seeing 14% growth during slow retail months

The biggest challenge for a quick food service retailer is managing their space in ways that meets the business goals. If you happen to be a popular hangout in a university  town like Kevin’s Puritan Coffee & Beer, this challenge becomes an even bigger priority.

Kevin was in search of a solution that allowed him and his team to manage the use of WiFi so guests would be encouraged to stretch, say hi to the barista or bartender and buy something else beyond their first coffee and food purchase. Over the years, Kevin tried multiple approaches including printing their own codes, but that meant his team spent hours creating the codes, printing the codes then cutting them into tiny little pieces of paper. It was a painful and inefficient solution that did not solve the problem.

Then GoGoGuest came along, who built a solution to integration with Square POS. Finally, an easy and frictionless approach to managing the use of guest amenities, space and understanding customers purchases, frequency of visit and length of visit in each Puritan Coffee & Beer.

Kevin says he signed up for the GoGoGuest, intelligence marketing automation to associate WiFi use with time spent, purchase made and an intelligent way to reach out to our customers with offers they really want. Now he says “since installing GoGoGuest, both locations are as busy yet we’re seeing a positive difference in sales.”

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At least 14% growth from November 2018 to April 2019 compared to prior years. It is important to note that November – December and June – July are super slow retail months in Fayetteville thanks to winter/summer breaks and holidays.

“With GoGoGuest, we’ve been able to enforce our guest amenity WiFi policy and gently change the behavior of our customers. We implemented GoGoGuest in November which is the start of the super slow retail season due to vacations and holidays – everyone leaves town! Even so, we still achieved 14% growth compared to our 2018 sales.”

GoGoGuest also helps him create a more personal guest experience for his customers. Kevin is able to send personalized greetings to each customer, learn how often people are returning, how long they’ve been a customer, are they local or are they a tourist?

Kevin likes to know “how many new customers are added per day, how many repeat customers and the number of times they’ve visited. The built-in capabilities to capture a customer’s email address with permission and automation workflows are a life-saver for an independent business owner like me.”

Just the beginning

Since Kevin started using GoGoGuest, he has launched a new website and has added catering as an extension of his business offerings. To support his growing business and popular local brand, Kevin plans to integrate customer data captures from the new website and use an iPad device for catering events an extension that GoGoGuest offers as part of my subscription. “I’m excited to take our brand awareness and local marketing to the next level and use the full intelligent marketing automation capabilities of GoGoGuest.”

There’s more! Puritan Coffee & Beer fans can look forward to the addition of a small batch single barrel craft beer production for four rotating craft beers in the Fall of 2019!  In addition to the usual 21 taps from around the world (in Downtown) and 12 taps (in Uptown) plus a wide variety of cans and bottled craft beer.

“I see GoGoGuest as partner and technology solution that helps Puritan Coffee & Beer elevate our guest experience while also our core customer data management and marketing partner in growing our business and our brand. I’m super pumped about the future. We are just getting started.”

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