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Emerging Brands

5 things to know about: Gregorys Coffee

How an emerging coffee chain is trying to find the sweet spot between Starbucks and niche, neighborhood coffeehouses.
Gregorys Coffee
Photo courtesy Gregorys Coffee

Buzzworthy Brands is a bi-weekly Restaurant Business podcast and feature highlighting innovative growth brands. Listen to the conversation with Gregorys Coffee founder and CEO Gregory Zamfotis.

After deciding a career in law was not for him, Gregory Zamfotis started Gregorys Coffee in 2006 in Manhattan.

Growing up, his father owned a number of food and beverage businesses, which inspired the younger Zamfotis to try to carve out a niche between giants like Starbucks and boutique, neighborhood coffeeshops.

Since then, Gregorys Coffee has grown to about 30 locations around New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C. The chain roasts its own beans and makes the bulk of its food offerings at a central commissary.

Though the chains central business district locations have been hard hit by the pandemic, Zamfotis said that having had mobile payment and app-based ordering capabilities for many years was a definite boost.

Here are five more things to know about Gregorys Coffee:

  1. Gregorys differentiates itself in the crowded coffee segment by providing high-quality coffee with the same speed of service as some of the bigger players, Zamfotis said. “We put systems in place to manage a high-quality coffee program while also maintaining a high volume of throughput,” he said.
  2. With Manhattan locations struggling during the pandemic, Zamfotis has been surprised to see that his highest-performing store is now a 400-square-foot location in Brooklyn. “We like that store,” he said. “It’s a good store. But it’s our smallest store in the fleet and it is crushing bigger stores in Times Square.”
  3. A couple of years ago, Gregorys started looking at real estate in different sorts of locations, including Hoboken, N.J., and Long Island, N.Y. “Moving forward, we’re certainly going to be evaluating real estate very differently,” he said.
  4. Just before the pandemic began, Gregorys launched a hot sandwich program. It has since become well known as a spot for plant-based options, including a popular breakfast sandwich made with vegan egg, sausage and cheese on a dairy-free croissant.
  5. A centralized commissary gives Gregorys a spot for coffee roasting, as well as food production. The concept is currently testing convection ovens at five locations, where some items would be baked off in-store.

 

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