Drive-up windows at coffee shops have been the standard for decades, but now Brewed Awakenings is taking the concept a step further. If the Rhode Island-based company with four shops gets Planning Board approval, it will open its fifth shop in what is the Land Rover dealership on Bald Hill Road.
EJA Development, LLC is seeking an amendment to the zoning ordinance that would allow a combination of auto service, auto display and coffee shop, with a drive-through and outdoor seating at the property. EJA would lease the property to Brewed Awakenings.
“Anytime you have a lot of traffic makes a good location,” Brewed Awakenings President David Levesque said yesterday. Assuming Planning Board and City Council approvals, Levesque hopes to have the store operational next February. It would be the biggest store in the expanding Brewed Awakenings galaxy and, like all other stores, unique.
“They all look unique so that it becomes their place,” Levesque said.
But, while unique, the store will offer the same service and product that Levesque says has made the company successful. He said “really good employees” make customers feel like the store is their place and duplicates the best of what Panera Bread, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks does.
“We took what all three do and get it all in one place,” he said.
With so much traffic on Route 2, and the fact that many outlets are open throughout the week, Levesque sees the Warwick store as extending the Brewed Awakenings brand, thereby bringing business to its other stores.
He expects the Warwick store will employ 45 to 55, of which at least one-third would be full-time jobs. Currently the company, which opened the first store about 18 years ago, employs 102.
Development of the Route 2 site goes back to 2001 when Jake Kaplan dealerships opened separate showrooms for Land Rover and Jaguar on heavily traveled Route 2 as part of Warwick Centre. Several years ago, the two showrooms were combined into a single facility. A rear portion of the building is being used as an auto service area.
The plan calls for the renovation of 5,700 square feet of the 13,000-square-foot building for the coffee shop. Levesque said another 2,300 square feet of outdoor seating is planned. An auto display area would be maintained in the building.
A key to the application is a plan to modify the traffic pattern, with a full access drive to Brewed Awakenings on Route 2, rather than cutting through the Kaplan dealership.
The Planning Department recommends favorable action with stipulations, including a review of traffic impact after two years, a landscape plan, safety barriers for outdoor seating and a revised site layout and circulation plan.
Levesque hopes for City Council consideration next month.
Asked about the lease for the property, Levesque said, with a laugh, “It’s a short-term lease of 25 years … It’s [Brewed Awakenings] here to stay; here to grow.”