A few decade and a half in the past — when the idea of slowness in some manual-brew-loving specialty espresso circles was firmly related to superior high quality — a bespectacled New Yorker named Gregory Zamfotis was leaning full-throttle into one other idea for specialty altogether: pace.
That effort has now led to legions of “Gregulars” visiting a whopping 38 Gregorys Espresso retailers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, together with a newly unveiled drive-through location in Paramus, NJ.
It’s been a protracted journey since Zamfotis, together with the assistance of his New York meals enterprise father, launched with a single Gregorys Espresso location in Manhattan in 2006.
Zamfotis has arguably at all times existed on the reducing fringe of an inevitable development in specialty espresso — one which has turn out to be particularly obvious within the pandemic period — by the mixing of two distinct ideas: high quality and comfort.
Additionally, not like conventional fast-food or QSR fashions, which generally depend on extremely processed and sometimes unhealthy fare to maintain prices down, Gregorys Espresso has managed to construct its enterprise with an expanded lineup of health-conscious and vegan meals choices, whereas introducing methods like reducing out corn syrup by growing an in-house date syrup.
Coffees, in the meantime, proceed to come back from Gregorys’ roastery in Lengthy Island Metropolis, which launched with a classic Probat UG-22 alongside a larger-capacity Probat machine in 2016.
We not too long ago reached out to Zamfotis to debate the most recent goings on with the now-iconic New York espresso model.
[Editor’s note: Portions of this interview have been shortened or gently edited for style and clarity.]
Each day Espresso Information: You’ve lengthy talked about sustaining effectivity alongside high quality, which in an period of “specialty instantaneous,” order-ahead apps, pandemic-proven drive-throughs, and many others. looks like guess. In what key methods have your effectivity protocols within the retail retailers developed over time? How are you sustaining it at scale?
Gregory Zamfotis: Velocity and effectivity are core to who we’re, so we’re consistently evaluating our protocols to seek out tips on how to enhance as we innovate. A key shift we made throughout covid was emigrate our bakery program from a centralized location to baking recent in every of our shops. We nonetheless make the merchandise from scratch ourselves, however now we bake recent all through the day in every cafe. This enables us to higher inventory our bakery case, and in addition improved high quality by eliminating any points throughout transportation. In the whole lot we do, we consider in difficult the established order. As we develop, we’re decided to enhance alongside the way in which.
Are you able to share how the menu design and store format have an effect on effectivity?
These components are essential to our success every single day. We thoughtfully curate our menu to incorporate distinctive and one-of-a-kind gadgets however at all times by the lens of creating positive we aren’t rolling in an merchandise that may disrupt our workflow in a cloth method. We take heed to our staff to ensure after we replace a menu, there may be buy-in from all the parents concerned.
Equally, our shops have to be specified by a technique to enable for queuing in addition to making it straightforward for order forward decide up. As an increasing number of of our Gregulars are ordering forward, we wish to make certain they’ve a fast and straightforward path to assemble their order and get on their method. We don’t get issues proper the primary time, each time, however we will probably be damned if we don’t be taught from our errors and get higher with each construct.
Clearly, staffing and retention are large points amongst companies of all types today. How are you managing that?
This begins and ends with tradition. We intention to construct a tradition of fact, belief and inclusion. We take into consideration our folks as folks, not baristas, and intention to see them for who they’re and assist make an excellent surroundings for them to succeed. We regularly onboard new staff members by phrase of mouth or suggestions from present employees members.
What are your present development plans?
We not too long ago opened a real specialty espresso drive via in Paramus, NJ. We couldn’t be happier with the outcomes and have been getting implausible suggestions from of us who simply can’t consider they now have entry to high quality espresso and meals like ours at a drive via. We intention to open many extra drive via areas sooner or later as part of our strong development plans!
In espresso, the place do you see the strains drawn between fast-food (QSR) and specialty espresso retail? The place are the distinctions between the 2?
There’s a lot to study true QSR. There’s a motive they’re so fashionable! Comfort, pace, accessibility are all issues that QSRs do an outstanding job at. Typically specialty espresso can really feel unique and that could be a downside we intention to resolve. Specialty espresso doesn’t must be sluggish and costly, we see espresso in a different way. We make high quality that’s accessible.
As an undergraduate scholar, you majored in finance with a minor in philosophy. How did you land on these two?
I genuinely thought I might pursue a profession in banking upon matriculating at Boston College. With that in thoughts, a focus in finance was the way in which to go. Alongside the way in which, I actually loved learning philosophy, notably the ancients, and determined to spend extra time doing so.
You adopted that up with legislation college. Was there one thing about legislation college that made you wish to go into espresso?
There was not a direct correlation between legislation college and low. As an alternative, it was a realization that I might reasonably pursue a ardour versus pursuing a job… I used to be able to working towards legislation, I simply didn’t love what I used to be doing. I like creating issues with my fingers, interacting with folks and making connections. Espresso has given me the power to do all of these issues every single day for the final 16 years.
Clearly, the espresso trade has some urgent social, financial and environmental sustainability challenges. Because the enterprise has grown, and thereby ostensibly touched extra provide chain actors, how have your views in the direction of sustainability in your personal provide chain developed?
With the C-price of espresso shifting a lot, it at all times begs the query, “How does this affect these at origin?” Macro financial elements can have a large affect on the livelihoods of so many within the espresso trade… One instance of one thing we did in 2019, was signing a multiyear settlement to buy espresso from Fazenda Lagoa in Brazil. We dedicated to purchasing espresso from them for a very long time, it doesn’t matter what the C was doing, and it gave them consolation and predictability of their enterprise. We had been blissful to do it as a result of not solely will we love their espresso, however we love them!
Lastly, listed below are the three questions:
Three Questions with Gregory Zamfotis
What excites you most about espresso?
The long run! It’s thrilling to see how specialty espresso has continued to develop, and now with the proliferation of chilly espresso, there are lots of new doorways we will open. We use espresso as an ingredient in making nice drinks. Whenever you begin with high quality espresso you may actually construct on prime of it with attention-grabbing and distinctive creations that folks love.
What troubles you most about espresso?
The stress at origin to proceed to enhance and modify with out the assure clients can pay the premium they should make these modifications. If there was extra transparency and widespread consciousness of those challenges it may go a protracted technique to eradicate many of those norms which may, at occasions, be a blemish on our wonderful trade.
What would you be doing if it weren’t for espresso?
That is actually exhausting to think about since I really love what I do. Nevertheless, if I had to decide on I might most likely be working in health. I’ve a deep ardour for wellness and taking good care of your physique.