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Black Rock Coffee Bar:

How We Are Raising the Bar on Building Prosperous Client Relationships from the Start

Like many other coffee chains across the United States, Black Rock Coffee Bar finds that its business model thrives due to the speed and convenience it can serve its customers with, thanks to the drive through window that anchors each location. However, unlike other coffee chains, Black Rock Coffee Bar sets itself apart by delving deeper into the communities its stores call home and creating a consistently community-driven brand experience, no matter the size or store format.

When HFA was approached by the Black Rock team in late 2019, they had three key challenges to solve for, and we were happy to dive in and see how we could help. First, the Black Rock leadership team was running into difficulties throughout the construction process, finding themselves faced with too many change orders, not enough attention to detail, and a lack of a consistency. Next, they were poised and ready for growth, but needed a partner that was no stranger to a national rollout. Finally, knowing that their most scalable and least time-prohibitive design model was a “build to suit” format, they needed a firm that could help create a prototype that was cost and timeline conscious, allowing them to open stores and serve communities faster. Enter Kelly King and her team at HFA.

One Cup at a Time

“They [Black Rock] had just started to grow into some new markets and had settled on a design that they wanted to rollout nationally, as well as continue to develop, but there were concerns about scalability with their current design partner, so they were looking for an AE firm that had a lot of experience not only in the restaurant industry, but with prototypes and full-scale rollouts, as well,” said Kelly King, Team Lead/Designer.

Originally targeting markets within Texas, Colorado, and Arizona, the Black Rock leadership team was poised and ready to grow in a big way in 2020, but they needed the HFA team’s help to get there. One of the most important things that our team realized about Black Rock Coffee Bar during those first few weeks of working together was their remarkable attention to detail, so much so that their leadership team thrived on having a front seat to all design decisions made with the initial prototype work. Our team’s designers took the Black Rock team through a series of visualization exercises that allowed them to not only virtually walk through the design, but make changes and updates live. This level of collaboration from the start eventually gave our team a sense of autonomy, illustrating very clearly what aspects of the design were nonnegotiable, ensuring they stayed consistent in every build out whether they were headed up by corporate or a third-party developer.

Raising the [Coffee] Bar

Black Rock Coffee Bar strives on excellence in everything they do, which isn’t a far cry from the purpose, vision, and values we try to live out each day through our work with clients and other professionals we partner with in the AE industry. This is yet another reason for our initial success in creating a relationship with Black Rock and will continue to help us both have success in the future. Another aspect of our relationship with Black Rock that informs the success we’ve had up until this point is the one team mentality we bring to the table. Not only do we have designers dedicated to Black Rock, but we also bring our team of engineers, to help solve challenges that may arise in the MEP or structural arena, plus, we have permitters dedicated to the restaurant team that do their best to be familiar with restrictions and challenges in the jurisdictions that we work, doing their best to keep projects moving forward on time.

“The unsung heroes in fast-paced projects like these are our permit experts that effectively get a project permitted to help maintain overall project schedules and store openings,” said Larry Lott, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Vice President at HFA.

As we continue to engage our team to maintain consistency and dedication to providing quality work, our relationship with Black Rock only continues to thrive and we look forward to new opportunities in the future to further our involvement in all aspects of their growth model.

What’s Next? 

A few things on the horizon that our team is gearing up for involve leaning in and helping to fit out a warehouse space for a roasting facility, allowing them to roast their own coffee beans, and further deliver on the quality and convenience they’re known for.

We’re also talking through how we can help support their other business interests, assisting them in opening up a second baked goods facility for one of their partners, Too Sweet Cakes, the bakery that provides all of the baked goods sold at Black Rock Coffee Bar locations throughout the United States.

Down the road, we hope to use the knowledge and expertise that we have with modular construction to help innovate their new prototype design for use in their drive through only formats, that may become a larger focus for Black Rock in the future. From past experiences, our clients at Black Rock know the benefits to Industrialized Construction, so we’re hopeful that’s something we can partner on together in the future.  

This is truly just the beginning of a prosperous client relationship that we can’t wait to continue growing in future months and years to come.

To learn more about our work with Black Rock Coffee Bar, feel free to contact Kelly King, Team Lead/Designer. You can contact her at kelly.king@hfa-ae.com.

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