Ben Orcutt, a 2011 AU graduate and the owner of Buckskin Bikes, a neighborhood bike store, is opening a local coffee shop: Jackrabbit Coffee. Though the date is tentative, Orcutt is confident that the store will be open before Christmas.
As AU’s own Mocha Joe’s coffee supplier, Jackrabbit Coffee is expanding. After serving coffee from a cart in the bike shop for the past three years, Orcutt took the opportunity to develop the business further, and right next door to the bike shop.
Recently celebrating five years of business, Orcutt opened Buckskin Bikes in June of 2012. Although he never planned for his shop to include a coffee business, an espresso machine has been in the store since the day it opened.
Having supplied coffee for the local farmers’ market, Jackrabbit Coffee also caters weddings, events, corporate parties and even ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
Orcutt’s good friend, Josh Safford, bought the property right next door to Buckskin Bikes over a year ago and thought about the space for six to eight months. He knew he wanted to fix it up and find something to fill it with.
After months of discussion, Orcutt and Safford decided that the best decision would be to open a coffee shop in order to grow the cart into a full store while maintaining the same brand identity.
The pair intend to redevelop the neighborhood surrounding Jackrabbit and Buckskin Bikes. Their enterprise is called the West Central Group, named after the neighborhood that is known as the West Central District.
“In five years, we want to see other businesses populating this space. Our goal with the coffee shop is to generate traffic and increase a sense of community here,” says Orcutt. “Our goal is not to branch out to different locations. We are going to grow our business by growing the neighborhood.”
Jackrabbit Coffee will be both Orcutt and Safford’s second business, as Safford owns his own contracting company, and the pair does not intend this shop to be the only they will have together.
Safford has already purchased another building across the street from the store. Their focus is specifically local.
With great care and caution taken in the way that their products are sourced, Jackrabbit Coffee makes all that they can.
“We intend to sell simply the best cup of coffee you can get anywhere.” says Orcutt. “If we can’t find it out in the world as good as we want it, we are doing it from scratch, so it will be top tier coffee.”
Serving items similar to what they currently distribute, the menu will be familiar. Everything is locally sourced and made from scratch, including their syrups.
“Everything is real with no chemicals or preservatives,” said Orcutt.
The business works with Bee Coffee Roasters out of Indianapolis for their coffee beans. Bagels, organic yogurt from a local dairy farm and Indiana organic oatmeal will also be on the menu.
“You can be confident about the quality of everything you will be getting from us,” Orcutt said. “Are we going to be cheap? No. Are we going to be good? Yes. But, frankly, we are not expensive either.”
Orcutt and Safford have been working on the shop for about a year. Safford is doing all of the construction to the building.
With a lot of seating, including bar space and tables, Jackrabbit will be able to provide for large groups, though it is recommended to call ahead. Whether it be a meeting place for Bible studies or staff meetings, Jackrabbit is happy to accommodate.
Both Orcutt and Safford plan on being in the shop often, and their wives are doing a lot of work within the shop. Jackrabbit Coffee is opening the store with six employees. Another round of hiring will most likely take place after the new year.
Although there will be no drive-thru, customers will be able to order and pay ahead through Jackrabbit’s Yelp page. Orcutt says it will be twice as fast as a drive thru, since the drink will be ready when the customer pulls up to the shop, and an employee will walk it to the car.
As of now, renovations are ongoing. Orcutt is confident that after everything is in order, the turnaround for opening will be extremely quick. A grand opening event will occur shortly after the initial opening.
The latest information on the opening of the shop can be found on Instagram and Facebook by searching for Jackrabbit Coffee.
Jackrabbit Coffee’s hours of operation will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. Hours may be elongated after the new year, possibly with Sunday operation as well.
The shop is located at 525 West 11th Street.