Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New Cafe Touches Down in Fairfield

New Cafe Touches Down in Fairfield
By Ben Antonius

Garrett Lui and his father Ken Lui sit and enjoy a smoothie at the new Green Beans Coffee on North Texas Street in Fairfield. (Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - After getting their start in Kyrgystan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, operating cafes in Fairfield and Vacaville should be a breeze for Jason and Jon Araghi.

They opened their first domestic location of Green Beans Coffee Co. in Fairfield on March 5 and have plans to convert another store in Vacaville, which is already selling Green Beans coffee.

The company got its start at the Eskan Village military compound in Saudi Arabia and eventually the brothers had mobile shops following military deployments around the world. But as the company moves stateside, it will do so with a virtually unknown brand rather than a familiar one as it has in the military.

"Part of our U.S. expansion model is to target communities that are troop supporters and to come back to communities where we have developed this brand recognition and brand support over the last 10 years," Jason Araghi said.

"A great deal of our customers over the years have been from the Travis Air Force Base area."

In opening the Vacaville store, the company took over an existing cafe on East Monte Vista Avenue and switched to the Green Beans menu. Green Beans headquarters is in the Bay Area, so operating stores in Fairfield and Vacaville is comfortably close by.

That should be an improvement from the logistical hurdles the company has faced since its creation - how to get coffee and food overseas and prepare it through power and water outages and security threats.

The company offers a traditional cafe menu, with baked pastries and a variety of coffee. In addition to the typical drip coffee, Green Beans sells espresso, mochas and lattes, spiced chai - "which is very popular with the Air Force," Araghi said - and a full line of fruit smoothies and frappes.

"It's pretty much similar to what you would get" at other cafes, he said.

Green Beans has plans to open 10 to 12 more stores nationwide by the end of the year, most of them in areas where they are likely to be noticed by returning soldiers. Araghi said he couldn't discuss details of the expansion plans but listed "Colorado, Texas, Georgia, Virginia and Southern California" as possible locations.

"We're in different phases at different sites," he said.

Reach Ben Antonius at 427-6977 or bantonius@dailyrepublic.net.

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