Jimmy John is buying some coffee.
Jimmy John Liautaud, the founder of the Jimmy John’s sandwich chain, along with Lone Star Steak House founder Jamie Coulter, on Tuesday said they acquired a majority stake in Seven Brew Drive-Thru Coffee, a nine-unit chain based in Fayetteville, Ark.
Liautaud and Coulter made the investment through Drink House Holdings, an investment partnership they created that is focused on the consumer sector.
Seven Brew was founded in 2016 and has locations throughout Northwest Arkansas. It’s part of a growing generation of drive-thru coffee concepts that target on-the-go customers. The chain’s units are all corporate owned, and funds from Drink House Holdings will be used to add more company-operated locations this year—it expects to end 2021 with 20 locations.
But it also plans to franchise, something both Liautaud and Coulter know about from their own backgrounds. Seven Brew announced the creation of its franchising program along with the investment. It hopes that selling locations to would-be entrepreneurs will speed the company’s growth.
“We believe the drive-thru category is ripe for reinvention and rapid growth and we’re well-positioned to disrupt and lead,” Liautaud said in a statement. “We admire the Brew Crew’s passion towards fearlessly exploring new ideas, ingredients and connections that help us learn more about ourselves, each other and our communities.”
Liautaud founded Jimmy John’s and was the company’s chairman until 2019, when the Roark Capital-backed Inspire Brands acquired the chain. Coulter, meanwhile, was a Pizza Hut franchisee who started Lone Star in 1989 and is a longtime industry veteran.
The two believe their experience operating and investing in restaurants, along with their management strategies, can help companies grow.
They’ll be taking on the burgeoning market for drive-thru coffee, as chains such as Dutch Bros and Scooter’s Coffee have grown rapidly in recent years—while behemoths Dunkin’ and Starbucks have opened more drive-thru locations.
Seven Brew specifically believes that its model can disrupt the market, with its “brewistas” who are “always energetic, upbeat, fun and welcoming,” along with a “fast and consistent drive-thru experience.”
“We believe the combination of Drink House Holdings’ industry resources and expertise, as well as our global brand-building experience, will help us grow Seven Brew into a category leader, while remaining true to the original mission of the brand,” Coulter said in a statement.