If you’re looking to refuel as you head into town, the Bean Thru coffee drive-thru can provide the jolt you need.
Your order is taken and prepared by a friendly barista and you’re on your way. “We are coffee convenience, not a coffee experience,” said owner, Joe Rostan.
Joe, 45, and wife, Joy, 37, of Cranberry, have owned the shop since 2011 when owners of Mocha Mountain decided to sell. It sits on a small sliver of land in Bellevue on the inbound side along Ohio River Boulevard.
The idea started perculating in 2009 or so when the Rostans were at the Pittsburgh Home & Garden Show. While walking by Amish-constructed garages and sheds, Joe told Joy,”That’s a coffee shop right there.” Joy, who was a tax accountant at the time, ran with the idea. Once she sets her mind to something, Joe said, it’s going to happen. “She is absolutely tenacious,” he said. Within a week, they started hashing out potential names for a coffee drive-thru business and landed on Bean Thru. Despite considering dozens of names, with Fuel Coffee in the lead, Bean Thru was the only domain name available.
They set their sights on a small parcel along Route 51 in Brentwood but, as fate would have it, the deal crumbled. Instead, they bought the Bellevue turnkey operation. Local roaster LaPrima Espresso Company is their supplier.
By 2014, they added a second location in Shaler Township. They purchased the Crazy Mocha drive-thru along Route 8. Both Bean Thru locations are identical in offerings; same coffee, same menu, same machinery. Their 17 employees bounce between shops. Joy works full time at the Bellevue location and Joe fills in, as needed, in Shaler. He spends more time as the Maintenance, Marketing and Human Relations Departments. Joe also works as Property Manager at rental properties nearby.
During the 2016 holiday season, the Rostans set up shop on a trail basis in the Grove City Outlets food court. They learned they prefer a permanent location and repeat customers. They plan to open their 3rd location this summer. It will be within the new Allegheny Health Network building in Wexford.
What’s inside the small 10’x20′ building, you might wonder? It’s very utilitarian. You’ll find no leather couches and
jazz music like a sitdown experience will provide. Instead, space is used for drink prep and storage. “It’s very shoplike, not pretty,” Joe said. And yes, there is a bathroom. Joe said he’s been asked that many times.
Three baristas work the morning shift and one or two finish out the day. Besides coffee, bakery items are also on the menu. Pastries, biscotti, cookies and grab n go foods are premade by local bakeries. Joy supports women-owned, local businesses including Aunt Anna’s Biscotti of Greensburg, Good L’oven Cookie Shop of Bellevue and A Sweet Morsel Co in Allison Park.
Joe isn’t concerned that a Starbucks is coming to Avalon, less than a mile down the boulevard. His customer base is looking for convenience and a personal touch. “We’re different. An unbelievably good attitude with a friendly, smiling face is taking your order every single time,” he said. They are selective in hiring, typically receiving 200 applicants per open position.
Joe said their house coffee is a custom, darker roast and their espresso is on the sweeter, caramelly chocolate side. He should know. He drinks 6-8 cups of black coffee a day, adding a few shots of espresso each. He said they’d make more profit if he didn’t. Joy drinks her share too. It gives them the energy to work and play. They have 2 young daughters ages 5 and under.
Bean Thru offers a variety of drinks ranging from espressos, lattes and frozen chillers. The Elvis Latte honors Elvis’ love of bananas and peanut butter and the Morning Frangelico is a splendid mix of hazelnut and caramel.
Between both locations, approximately 20,000 customers drive through each month. Some stop in 2 or 3 times per day.
Bean Thru hours are 6:00am – 6:00pm Monday through Friday, 7:00am – 5:00pm Saturday and 7:00am – 4:00pm Sunday. They are open every day but Christmas.