ELMHURST – Whenever Muddassar “Mudzi” Alvi visits a new city, his goal is to visit the area’s best coffee shop – soaking in the atmosphere as well as the brew. In the Chicago suburbs, however, Alvi’s goal is more lofty: He wants to own the best coffee shop in town.
Alvi hopes the new Gloria Jean’s Coffees in Elmhurst can achieve that milestone by serving up “a cup of coffee with heart behind it.”
“It has to be more like a feeling, not just a cup of coffee,” said Alvi, who opened his latest franchise last month at 111 E. First St., a couple of blocks from the Elmhurst train station. “In a good coffee shop, you will be educated about all kinds of things you can’t imagine. Coffee brings the best out of you.”
Alvi owns six Gloria Jean’s franchise locations in Bloomingdale, Fox Valley-Aurora, Springfield, Wisconsin Dells and Chicago Ridge, which was his first storefront that opened six years ago after he left the technology field.
“Everyone said, ‘Why are you leaving?’ I said, ‘To do what I want to do in life,’” Alvi said. “Ninety-nine percent of people are doing what they need to do to make ends meet. I always wanted to open a coffee shop. It’s what I grew up with.
“On weekends, my dad would go to a coffee shop. I would have all my corporate meetings in a coffee shop. Now I make less money than I ever made before, but I love every minute of it. I don’t take a day off. It’s the best feeling in the world.”
Alvi said he also enjoys giving back to the community through his business, which he is doing with sales of a new, limited-edition pink Breast Cancer Awareness Month coffee tumbler that reads “My coffee is strong and so am I.” It’s part of a breast cancer fundraiser from the Gloria Jean’s Coffees chain.
“Our customers are like family. We want to find some way to help support the cause,” said Martin Balcaitis, director of marketing for Gloria Jean’s Coffees/Retail Food Group. “This is the first year we are doing an organized effort with a charity partner. Breast Cancer Research Foundation is the one we chose knowing they have such a high amount of dollars collected that goes to research.”
Balcaitis said the franchiser is donating $1 from the sale of each tumbler. Franchisees can donate part or all of the $14.99 purchase price, which Alvi is doing. The goal is to sell 1,000 tumblers during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, when the tumbler is available at 14 participating locations.
“I think the world is not about what you make for yourself but also about contributing to other people’s lives. You only need a certain amount of money in your life. Better to use it for people who need it,” Alvi said.
Gloria Jean’s Coffees founder Gloria Jean Kvetko is a cancer survivor.
Balcaitis said when Kvetko opened the first Gloria Jean’s Coffees in Chicago in 1979, she was one of the first to have the idea of flavored coffee beans.
“Nobody was doing flavored coffee,” Balcaitis said. “We marinate the beans, so they soak up all that wonderful flavor.”
As Kvetko’s business took off, she began franchising and eventually sold. While most of the 53 nationwide locations are in malls, Balcaitis said the Elmhurst location is “a new fun area for us to have” to catch the morning commuter crowd. It’s one of six new store openings planned for 2016.
ABOUT Gloria Jean’s Coffee Elmhurst
Address: 111 E. First St.
Hours: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
More info: gloriajeans.com