Industry News | July 23, 2015 | QSR Exclusive Brief

Beverage Zeitgeist

image used with permission.

Consumers are drinking more … coffee and specialty beverages, that is. According to the National Restaurant Association’s annual forecast, snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars are estimated to witness a 5.2 percent sales boost in 2015.

This burgeoning popularity helps explain how two sister concepts have been able to scale so quickly.

Qwench Juice Bar only launched in April but already counts four standalone locations and two shared units to its name. Sister concept DRNK Coffee + Tea first opened its doors in 2013 and has six independent stores, including two express sites on the University of Southern California campus.

“The two brands stand on their own in terms of exposure. The combining of the two give customer the option of different dayparts,” says Mitch Baker, chief marketing officer for Qwench and DRNK.

With displays of fresh fruit and greens that are misted throughout the day, Qwench specializes in healthy fare like raw juices, açaí bowls, and smoothies. DRNK features premium espresso, drip coffee, and teas but also serves breakfast sandwiches and panini. But perhaps most impressive is DRNK’s tap system, which is filled with two iced teas, three kombucha flavors, and one cold-brew coffee. Baker says the brand is also looking into unconventional tap options such as carbonated coffee or tea.

In addition to complementing each other’s dayparts, Qwench and DRNK’s beverage selection give customers more choices for when the weather changes.  Although Qwench and DRNK are based in temperate Los Angeles, Baker says that the minute the weather turns bad, people change their drink order.

 “We developed it to look and feel very sexy and have a little bit of a swagger to it, even down to the packaging,” Baker says. “We wanted to hit this sweet spot.”

Seasonal sensitivity notwithstanding, consumers are increasingly making juice a regular part of their daily diets, Baker says. Beyond this trend, the small footprint of both concepts facilitates their growth beyond Southern California. Even when the duo share a cobranded unit, they can fit within a 1,000-square-foot space.

Beyond these factors, Baker attributes Qwench and DRNK’s speedy success to an experienced leadership, whose credentials include Pinkberry, It’s a Grind Coffee House, and John Rockets.

The two brands’ quick growth is set to continue as Baker says they are working with large franchise groups in the U.S., the Middle East, and Japan. Franchisees would have the option of opening Qwench or DRNK separately, but Baker says cobranded units are ideal.


By Nicole Duncan

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