Ben Orcutt, a 2011 AU graduate and the owner of Buckskin Bikes, and Josh Stafford, also an AU alum, have opened a local coffee shop: Jackrabbit Coffee. After weeks with only a tentative plan to open around Christmas, the store was finally declared open for business on Dec. 28.
Jackrabbit Coffee, which has been served from a cart in Buckskin Bikes for three years and also provides coffee to AU’s Mocha Joe’s, has expanded to its own standalone shop next door to its original home.
Orcutt recently celebrated five years in business with Buckskin Bikes, which opened 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 Stafford, 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 Stafford 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 Stafford’s second business, as Stafford owns his own contracting company, and the pair does not intend this shop to be the only one they will have together.
Stafford has already purchased another building across the street from the store. Their focus is specifically improving the local community.
With great care and caution taken in the way that their products are sourced, Jackrabbit Coffee makes all that they can in-store.
“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.”
The menu in the new store will be familiar to those who have purchased from the cart. 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 a company out of Indianapolis, Bee Coffee Roasters, 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 Stafford have been working on the shop for about a year. Stafford has done all of the construction to the building.
Both Orcutt and Stafford 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 is no drive-thru, customers are 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.
Although renovations left an uncertain timeline for opening, Orcutt and Stafford announced via the Jackrabbit Coffee Facebook page that the store was open on Dec. 28 and is expected to begin regular business hours on Dec. 29. A grand opening event is being planned for shortly after the initial opening.
The latest information on the shop can be found on Instagram and Facebook by searching for Jackrabbit Coffee.
Jackrabbit Coffee’s hours of operation will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 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.