By John Grossi
For thousands of customers, a stop at the original It’s A Grind location was routine for 27 years. Everything the franchise grew into started out of the cozy neighborhood shop on Spring St.
So in 2020, when loyal regulars heard that its lease was up and the coffee shop might disappear, there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. Luckily, Bill D’Alvia, one of the regulars who is also a local real estate agent, heard about the situation and immediately figured out a plan to save his beloved coffee spot. He was able to orchestrate a connection.
Enter Robert Herrera and the new concept, “Local Grind Coffee.”
The new concept is a lot like the old concept as far as their staffing (all employees’ jobs were saved) and atmosphere. Robert is focusing on what he refers to as, “Lots of small incremental changes and upgrades.” Especially when it comes to food.
Food is Robert’s background. The reasons D’Alvia knew that Robert could rescue the shop was:
1) He (Robert himself) was already a regular at It’s a Grind; and
2) He already owned a gourmet food supply business looking to expand.
Robert and business partner Michael Markanian are doing something extraordinary at Local Grind Coffee. What that means is, they’ve kept everything that was working and upgraded everything that needed help!
Let’s start with their coffee. The first thing Robert and Michael did was to install a brand new filtration system that brings the best quality water, purified in the most environmentally friendly way, into each cup they brew. The second was to upgrade the coffee itself. Certified organic, fair trade beans - high quality and carefully sourced.
“We’ve upgraded everything from our water, to our beans, to our premium syrups, with the express intention of bringing you the best cup of coffee we can,” says Robert.
While many of the drinks remain true in spirit to those offered by It’s a Grind, an upgrade in food offerings will be a major emphasis for Local Grind Coffee going forward. The new owners’ other company, Miro Foods, specializes in gourmet meats, cheeses, charcuterie and specialty foods.
Without redoing the menu, Robert hopes to add to and expand what is already working, turning Local Grind Coffee into as much a lunch destination as it already is a breakfast location.
“All of our additions will be small, incremental and well thought-out,” says Robert. “So much of this place works well just as it is. Jen, the manager, is a star. She and the employees know these customers as family. We will introduce new food and coffee concepts only to complement and expand what is already a treasure.”
The bagels are a great example. When Robert tasted the bagels already on offer at the coffee shop, he immediately realized their high quality. They rivaled those from the best bagel shops he’s visited in New York. So the first additions to the menu were bagel based.
The Lox Bagel is an immediate hit, as well as their “bagel-take” on Avocado Toast with fresh sundried tomato. In the near future customers will see an expanded kitchen introducing sandwiches, salads and more. As well as a permanent outdoor patio.
But everything at Local Grind goes back to great coffee, great employees, and a great customer experience curated by locals!