MARPLE - It was not all that long ago, five years to be exact, that Nick Bayer was predicting big things for his little coffee company, Saxbys.
A miserable economy, a bankruptcy filing and a string of lawsuits from minority shareholders and creditors put the kibosh on Bayer's vision of 2,000-plus Saxbys franchises dotting America's latte landscape by 2014.
But he still believes in his beans and the business model of delivering the consistency in product of a national chain inside vibrant, locally owned shops.
'I feel we have tremendous growth potential ... and an attractive and affordable business model,' Bayer said.
The brass at Radnor-based MVP Capital Partners apparently felt likewise when they decided to purchase Saxbys in March for an undisclosed sum.
'It feels great to have the support of a humongously successful company like MVP that sees that future,' said Bayer, Saxbys' president.
There are currently 28 independently owned Saxbys franchises. Several of them were acquired when the company purchased Bucks County Coffee in October 2008.
The Saxbys in Malvern and East Marlborough in Chester County, opened a few years ago, are now closed.
Paul Friel, CEO of Swiss Farms (another MVP subsidiary), will now run Saxbys, too.
The corporate offices for both companies are housed in Swiss Farms space on Parkway Drive in the Lawrence Park Industrial Center in Broomall.
'The great majority of our franchises - about 75 percent - are located between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.,' Bayer said. 'In the near term, the Mid-Atlantic will continue to be our focus.'
Swiss Farms has one location in Chester County, on Paoli Pike in East Goshen.
Bayer said Saxbys has put together 'a product mix that's desirable morning, noon and night' and includes all-natural smoothies, frozen yogurt that can be dressed up at an elaborate toppings station and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches.
'Starbucks had a banner year in 2011, the best in its 40-year history,' he said. 'People incorrectly assume that upscale coffee shops are a luxury that people cannot afford but we are serving a daily, affordable luxury product and continue to perform well in a down economy.'
Since the sale went through, Bayer said he has been working to strengthen his relationship with vendors and has plans to launch a new Saxbys website in the next three weeks.
While he did not predict a franchise explosion in the next few years, Bayer believes his model still has 'great legs.'
'We are in a marathon, not a sprint,' he said.
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