Gas and Donuts
He blames the economy in general, the price of gas in particular, and the fact that more people are leasing cars and aren't so invested in them. "So I decided I needed something that would fit for this area. I decided a coffee shop that also sells beer and wine. I figured that's where it's all going--coffee, beer and wine, bigger stores."
Michigan law is a little touchy about issuing liquor licenses to gas stations. Not wanting to be seen as directly promoting drinking and driving, the law requires gas stations to jump through a number of hoops that separate the two (including the ludicrous requirement that the fuel pumps and the alcohol be physically separated by fifty feet). The biggest obstacle--the one that necessitated a demolition and a rebuild--is that gas stations that carry alcohol must have at least 55,000 square feet or maintain inventories of at least $250,000 in nonalcoholic items. That's more than a few shelves of Doritos. Ajrouch's expanded inventory even includes fresh hummus and fine cigars.
He considered several coffee franchises--Biggby, Coffee Beanery, Dunkin' Donuts--"but most people wanted Tim Hortons," he says of the Canadian donut chain that claims to be bigger than McDonald's on its home turf.