- BigFoot Java News
Stomping New Grounds in South Hill
by Philip Palermo
Photos and design: Steve Heeb
BigFoot Java is the first step in the creation of a coffee legend
November 11, 2002
After centuries of seclusion and mystery, a northwest
icon has set up shop in the middle of South Hill. Drivers
traveling past the 12000 block of Meridian Avenue East
can easily spot the giant footprint dominating the BigFoot
Java® coffee drive-thru. The co-owners call it a prototype.
If everything goes according to their plans, it will be
the first step in redefining the drive-through coffee
The History of BigFoot
There have been BigFoot Java® sightings before. Co-founder
Al Jiwani of Ideas Brewing said previous BigFoot Java®
s have been spotted in Bonney Lake, Kent and Buckley.
Jiwani's past business ventures include becoming president of
the TriMark Petroleum Group in Pacific, Wash. With that experience
in hand, Jiwani partnered with David Morris of M2H Investments.
In 2000, BigFoot Franchising Corporation was formed, combining
Jiwani's knowledge of the real estate business with Morris's knowledge
of specialty coffee.
With a concept in place, the pair opened BigFoot Java® in
South Hill as a prototype. To separate themselves from other counterless
drive-through coffee stands in the area, Morris said they needed
a consistent theme for their signs, graphics and products.
"Personality is important," Jiwani said. "It permeates
the whole business."
The company is aiming for a segment of the market roughly between
independent, family-owned drive-throughs and industrial giants
like Seattle's Best Coffee and Starbucks.
Lon LaFlamme, principal for KJL Communications, said BigFoot Java®
, a client of KJL, isn't worried about possible competition from
companies like Starbucks, who he referred to as the "green
"It's running under the radar at the moment," LaFlamme
said. "However, the bigger they get, the more recognition
According to a supplied information packet, the company is trying
to distance itself from other coffee drive-throughs with several
features, including 14-hour business hours.
The company also offers signature drinks including BigFoot Java®
's Legendary Latte and Mythical Mocha to help carve out an identity
in a crowded market.
"It's exciting to see them take off like this," LaFlamme
South Hill won't be BigFoot's only stop in Puyallup. Already the
company is planning to open three more locations near South Hill
Park, River Road and the corner of 176th Street and Meridian Avenue.
These locations are part of what the company calls its "50 by
'05" plan, a goal to open 50 BigFoot Java® locations in the
Pacific Northwest in the next five years.
"We're gearing up ourselves to franchising," LaFlamme
said. "We want to know when we enter the franchise market
that we have a dependable model."
Included in their long-term plans is what LaFlamme called a first-of-its-kind
training facility for future drive-through employees. According
to LaFlamme, the facility will help maintain a level of consistency
throughout future locations by employing speed training and quality
control programs. Employees will enhance efficiency by learning
to make precision movements at twice the usual speed, LaFlamme
"The two of them are literally redefining the drive-through
industry," LaFlamme said.
Another step in establishing an overall theme, Jiwani said, is
the use of scratch-off cards and gift cards.
According to Jiwani, features will be added to the gift card in
Currently, the card works as a prepaid gift card. In the next
two to three months, Jiwani said, the company will begin a loyalty
program. Customers will be able to use their gift cards to accumulate
points with each purchase. The specifics of the loyalty program
have not been finished.
"We're making sure the fundamentals are sound," Jiwani
said about BigFoot's growth.
According to LaFlamme, sophisticated site location, including
analyzing traffic counts, will play a large part in determining
where BigFoot will be spotted next.
The key to success, LaFlamme said, is "more than training.
You've got to have the right location."
Future BigFoot Java® s may not resemble the South Hill prototype.
LaFlamme said future BigFoot Java® s would be structured according
to the location. Some will be stand-alone drive-throughs while
others could be incorporated into strip malls.
"It's a prototype and there's going to be changes from here
to the 50th one."
Copyright © 2003 Puyallup Herald. All rights reserved.