COLUMBUS — Right now it’s just a sign bookended by orange construction cones, but later this year a vacant lot along 23rd Street will be home to the city’s newest gourmet coffee shop.
Scooter’s Coffee, a Nebraska-based franchise founded in 1998, is adding a Columbus location at 2003 23rd St., formerly the site of an Ernst Auto lot along the highway’s south side.
Work is expected to begin within the next two weeks on the drive-thru coffee business, according to franchisee Daria Engel Springer, who is partnering with fellow Lincoln resident Kristen Stauffer to open the local Scooter’s. Springer, a Schuyler native, is already part owner of two Scooter’s locations in Lincoln.
The business, which uses a drive-thru model focused on speed and efficiency, is targeting an early October opening in Columbus.
Jamie Hamburg, director of marketing for the Omaha-based company, said the business’ success in Nebraska has been catalyst for growth across the state.
“Our success is rooted in our loyal Nebraska fan base. ... Even though we continue to expand nationwide, we’ve found that our locations typically thrive in towns across Nebraska that have been wanting a Scooter’s for years,” Hamburg said in an email.
Scooter’s Coffee started in 1998 with a single drive-thru coffeehouse in Bellevue and has since expanded into 15 states with nearly 140 locations. There are more than 80 locations in Nebraska, with the closest to Columbus found in Fremont and Norfolk.
Local coffee drinkers lost the convenience of a drive-thru shop when BrewHaHa was forced to close its 23rd Street location. The business reopened downtown as Sip Espresso Bar, a more traditional sit-down coffee shop.
Scooter’s Coffee will offer espresso drinks — hot, iced or blended — as well as fruit smoothies, breakfast sandwiches and fresh pastries. The company plans to launch a line of brewed tea products this summer and expand its breakfast menu.
The Columbus shop is part of a larger expansion plan that includes 40 grand openings set for this year with an emphasis on growing the company’s presence across the Midwest.
“The growth is being driven by the demand for a quality coffee shop that serves specialty drinks in a quick and convenient way,” Hamburg said. “In particular, in the state of Nebraska, we’re noticing a trend of mid-sized towns requesting our world-class coffee.”
“We want to be a part of the community, and we’ll hit the ground running to ensure that we do so,” Hamburg said. “That’s an important piece of what makes Scooter’s so special.”