Daily Grind Unwind continues to perk

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Move over Starbucks, there’s another latte maker in town. Daily Grind Unwind, a Winchester-based chain of franchised coffee houses and cafés, is pursing a larger share of the $12.5 billion specialty coffee market by adding European teas, all-fruit smoothies and soups, sandwiches and other freshly prepared food items to its core menu of espressos, cappuccinos and lattes. A crowd favorite? Beef and cheddar on baguette.

“We think that our variety and quality is quite a bit better than our competitors,” says Leo Tudela, CEO of Daily Grind Unwind. He says that, as a result, customers come in not just for a morning energy boost but for lunch or a light dinner as well. “Having a café menu is a huge benefit to both our customers and our franchise owners.”

Ironically, it was Starbucks and other established coffee houses in Seattle that inspired the creation of Daily Grind Unwind. Founder and COO Edward Chapman, a long-time resident of Winchester, spent a great deal of time in Seattle when his daughter Katie was undergoing cancer treatment (she’s in remission now). He took his idea for a different kind of coffee house back to Winchester. He found an enthusiastic partner in friend Rick Rawlings (now the company’s CFO), and they opened their first coffee house in 1995. In 2000, the pair launched a franchising program.

Since then, Daily Grind Unwind has opened 51 locations in eight states (33 are in Virginia) and has another 24 sites on schedule to open by the end this year. Despite the shaky economy, Tudela expects corporate-wide sales to grow 28 percent in 2008 and the company to have at least 100 locations in operation by the end of 2010.

“We’re in a ripe position, because basically people are still looking at their specialty coffee drinks as the last affordable luxury,” says Tudela. “They’re not going to give that up.” 

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