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With the food-truck trend thriving in the U.S., a decade-old, Australian mobile brand is ready to replicate its success in the States.
Cafe2U, a mobile espresso brand with about 120 units in Australia and more than 50 units throughout the United Kingdom, rolled out its first U.S. unit in Bend, Oregon. The company hopes to have 1,000 franchised units in the U.S. in the next five years.
Lee Johns, president of Cafe2U Inc., says his brand—which was founded in Australia in 2000 and began franchising in 2005—is different than the rest of the food-truck industry in that its primary focus isn’t food.
“Gourmet coffee delivered to nontraditional locations is what separates us,” Johns says. “The food-truck industry is more static, and we’re mobile espresso, so we’re going to at least 25 or 30 locations per day and not sitting still.”
Ideal locations for Cafe2U, Johns says, are “employee houses with six to 49 employees.”
Johns says that roughly 80–85 percent of Cafe2U’s sales are coffee, espresso, hot chocolate, chai lattes, and other hot beverages. The rest of its sales are packaged food products such as cookies, rolls, wraps, and biscottis.
Cafe2U has already sold franchises in Oregon and California, and is also on the verge of selling the Seattle market. But Johns says the concept will be national.
“Right now it’s regional and looks West Coast, but it could jump to Florida, Texas, or Virginia,” he says.
“There’s not really a pack of mobile espresso [units] yet, so we’re hoping to set the high standards here in mobile espresso and duplicate what has been so successful for Cafe2U in Australia.”
Johns describes the ideal franchise partner for Cafe2U as someone “who wants to be their own boss, work their own hours, and is tired of working for the man.”
“We have a wonderful model that fits mom and pops,” he says. “It also fits the younger profile and those who’ve been in the hospitality business … and want the independence that owning their own business can do for them.”
By Sam Oches