Colorado Springs entrepreneur brews up plan to become king of coffee

By Ned Hunter Updated: July 4, 2013 at 8:01 am • Published: July 2, 2013 | 4:55 pm 0
photo - A portrait of owner John Reinecke, and his employees (left to right) Jasmine Stewart, Jazmin Yonkers, and Elise Koerner, at the Loco Bean Coffee on 4797 Barnes Road, Monday, July 1, 2013.   Photo by Junfu Han. The Gazette.
A portrait of owner John Reinecke, and his employees (left to right) Jasmine Stewart, Jazmin Yonkers, and Elise Koerner, at the Loco Bean Coffee on 4797 Barnes Road, Monday, July 1, 2013. Photo by Junfu Han. The Gazette.

He spent more than a decade working for Fortune 500 companies.

Now, John Reinecke wants to build his own multistate, caffeine-based kingdom.

A Colorado Springs native, Reinecke has extensive experience in the hospitality industry in Las Vegas. He opened his first Loco Bean coffee shop at 4797 Barnes Road on June 15, and said it's already profitable.

Still, Reinecke knows it is just one store in his multi-franchised corporate goal, and he understands the fight that's coming.

"I am going after Dutch Brothers and Starbucks," Reinecke said. "I have always liked the David and Goliath story."

Reinecke opened Loco Bean with his father, David, mother, Julia and sister, Natalie. The coffee shop has five employees, who "just happened to turn out to be all women," but he makes it clear that this is not a place with bikini-clad servers. He interviewed about 200 to find those five workers he thinks can help his company eventually go statewide, then nationwide.

He is training his five baristas the same way he was trained at the Fortune 500 companies he worked for in Las Vegas, teaching them all the tricks he knows to entice, maintain, and build his customer base. Reinecke said his company's future depends on those five women and future employees.

"They are the face of the company," he said. "I just manage schedules and budgets."

Maybe, but if Reinecke's coffee shop becomes a multistate empire, it's likely because he has drunk from the cups of both success and failure.

Reinecke started his hospitality career in the The Broadmoor's banquet division in 1995. It was there he met someone who helped him get a job with the former Mirage Resorts company in Las Vegas. So in 1998, Reinecke moved to Nevada and helped open the Bellagio that year, then Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 2000. He eventually became executive director of Business Development for MGM/Resorts International.

A decade later, Reinecke left the hospitality industry to become executive vice president of Business Development for Canyon Gate Medical Group. The change in careers was based more on personal tragedy than opportunity, Reinecke said. His youngest son, Xavier, was born with cerebral palsy the same year Reinecke switched careers. Xavier died three years later.

"I knew that the medical system in Las Vegas was flawed and fragmented," he said, "and to effectuate change, I knew I had to be involved."

Reinecke said he stayed with Canyon Gate until it was sold in 2011. After Canyon Gate's sale, Reinecke started his own medical group company, Endurance Health.

"It flopped," he said, "and I had phenomenal minds involved."

A touch battered and bruised, Reinecke went back to hospitality and in December, helped open Andrea's restaurant at the Encore hotel in Las Vegas.

But the taste of owning his own company lingered, and in January, Reinecke returned home to start his caffeine-based empire with his family, with no illusions about the uphill battle that lies ahead.

He said he is already behind in his plans. Reinecke wanted to open his first shop off Nevada Avenue across from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs campus. Starbucks got there first. Now, he is working with the Sky Sox to open a seasonal shop inside the minor league stadium, and hopes to open a second coffee shop by year's end in either Fountain or near New Life Church in northern Colorado Springs.

To compete against the national chains, Reinecke is buying his coffee from Carl Nolt, former operations manager at Seattle's Best Coffee. Nolt now runs Springs-based Serranos Coffee Co. Reinecke also has developed his own specialty drinks.

In the long run, though, Reinecke knows his future depends on customer service and teaching people about the world of coffee, much like a sommelier teaches diners about wines.

"I understand that we are not doing anything different," Reinecke said, "Yet, we are doing something different by not just serving our customers coffee and taking their plastic."

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Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.

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