JAVA WARS: Local Man Buys Saxby’s Coffee Chain, Dreams Of Life In Starbucks’ Grande Shadow

A Philadelphia-area entrepreneur says a new coffee shop chain he has just purchased, Saxby’s, will be showing up all over the area, and he’s brewed up a plan to take it national.

Joe Grasso of Walnut Street Capital, who has moved Saxby’s headquarters to the Curtis Center alongsaxby.jpg Independence Mall, feels there is room for the company to grow to second place, behind a dominant Starbucks, which has more than 10,000 locations.

A Saxby’s will open next week in Wayne, and there will be close to 60 in the Philadelphia-area by the first quarter of next year, according to Grasso. “We’re growing at a pace of one a week. That should increase over the next five to six months.”

The five to seven-year plan is 150 stores in these parts, and 750 across the nation. “There’s nothing wrong with Starbucks. People look for an alternative. This is a much smoother, different type of coffee.”

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RELATED: “They watch her every move these days, but back in 1995 nobody paid much attention when the mermaidstarbuckspw.jpg first showed up on the corner of 16th and Walnut streets. She brought along her jazz and her smart, comfy chairs and her cherrywood accents and her slate floors and mellow lighting and her skinny venti double lattes with whipped cream on top.

She hung up her sign outside — Starbucks, it said — and went about the business of selling premium cups of buzz for a pretty penny. Build it and they would come, the saying goes. And sure enough, the tired, the drowsy and the bored filed through her doors, with their laptops and their stylish eyewear, in search of that ever elusive motivation in a cup.

The mermaid seemed harmless enough at the time, nurturing even. She came from Seattle, the mecca of all things cool and ’90s: Microsoft, grunge, high-tech IPOs. She had big plans. This was only the beginning. One store would not be enough — it never was.” [PW]


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