Austria-based Coffeeshop Company brings European flair to the States

Your Houston News
By Bridget Balch
March 26, 2015

http://www.yourhoustonnews.com/greater_houston/entertainment/austria-based-coffeeshop-company-brings-european-flair-to-the-states/article_1fadd10e-d3bc-11e4-a0a8-8f87eca32b62.html

The Woodlands area is about to get a little taste of Europe — and without even having to venture onto Interstate 45.

The Coffeeshop Company — based out of Austria — is opening its first U.S. location just outside The Woodlands on the southbound feeder road between The Woodlands Mall and Sawdust Road. Management hopes to open by the end of April.

“We think our coffee shop is what a coffee shop should be,” said Phillip McNeal, general manager of the new location.

The Coffeeshop Company is a franchise, but McNeal said that it is run as a family-owned business, which gives it a more personal touch and a dedication to quality over quantity.

Although there are about 300 locations throughout the world, the South County site is the first on U.S. soil. And true to Texas form, it will be the largest of all the locations, as well as the only one with a drive-thru. The shop will also show its Texan pride by flying the state flag in front of the building.

But just because they’re adding a little American flair to the concept doesn’t mean they’re deviating from the European charm and quality on which the owners pride themselves. For one, the Austrian flag will be flying along side the Lone Star flag.

McNeal said that this café will be different from anything The Woodlands area currently has to offer because it has deep European roots and high quality standards.

The menu will feature a range of hot and cold coffees, espresso drinks, teas, smoothies, shakes and lemonades, as well as a variety of pastries, sandwiches, flatbreads and other fare.

Among the coffee varieties offered will be the Bob Marley Jamaican blends, a high-end brand that the shop will serve with special presentation on its own tray, with double-glass mugs and all the trimmings.

The variety of teas and lemonades will also be unique to The Coffeeshop Company, McNeal said.

The stone-exterior building will feature a patio and, in addition to the drive-thru, the shop will have grab-and-go options as well as table service.

McNeal explained that they are not trying to compete with major chains like Starbucks and that they are focused more on providing a relaxed, quality experience for every guest — McNeal never uses the term “customer.”

“We want to be able to know everyone who comes through that door and give them a feeling of comfort,” McNeal said.

Owner Ahmed Ramadan and McNeal have worked closely with The Coffeeshop Company team to make this first U.S. venture live up to the standards set by its Austrian founders.

The café was originally planned to open about a year ago, but the management team found that there was an extensive culture gap to bridge — since what it takes to start a business in the U.S. is different than in other countries, McNeal said.

But he isn’t discouraged by the delay.

“We want to make sure everything is perfect,” he said.

In the meantime, The Coffeeshop Company’s food consultants have selected local bakeries that the location will partner with, they have started to receive the café equipment from Austria and are undergoing training to ensure that the new shop will reflect the European style.

“The Woodlands is growing like crazy,” McNeal said. “We want to grow with (it).”