DaCapo Coffee Leverages Business Relationship With Burkett’s Jeff Hussar to Fuel Expansion
Last updated on June 29th, 2023 at 10:06 am
Walking into DaCapo Coffee’s original location in Temperance, MI gives you a sense of what husband and wife co-owners Mark and Denise “Dee” Ellsworth are really about.
From the smell of coffee and pastries to the unique art on the walls, you can tell DaCapo was created with the vision of connecting community, art, music, cakes, pastries and exceptional coffee.
Photos: DaCapo Coffee, Facebook
Now, after collaborating with Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies, DaCapo is set to open a second location at 6620 Summerlyn Lakes Dr. in Lambertville, MI, just four miles away from their original location in Temperance, MI with a very similar vibe.
“When the space in Temperance became available, I knew I was going to open a pastry business,” said Ellsworth. Ellsworth knew he needed something aside from pastries to drive his business and settled on the idea of coffee.
“We found Flying Rhino Coffee in downtown Toledo and met the owners Ralph & Gini Behrendt. They set us up with coffee equipment and told me to go to Burkett for everything else. So we went to Burkett and the first person we met was Jeff Hussar,” said Ellsworth.
Jeff Hussar, a national inside sales team member for Burkett Restaurant Equipment since July of 2008, was the first to answer the phone when Mark called.
Their business relationship has carried over many years as Hussar has always been proactive in his approach.
Ellsworth praised Hussar and said, “Jeff always asked, ‘what are your constraints now?’ He talked to me about having to shop almost every-other-day for basics because you go through so much product and we don’t have a place to put milk and other items. He told me we really need to have a cooler dedicated just to what’s going on upstairs, a cooler in the back for bubble tea, and a second prep sandwich cooler in the back.”
Despite having a degree in culinary arts, and running a successful cake shop in Saginaw, MI, Ellsworth was limited in his knowledge on commercial coffee equipment. Thankfully, he had help from friends Charlie Engler and Lance Roper, other customers, and Hussar.
“These guys have all been a godsend. Jeff and Charlie walked us through everything. They worked with my architect. They found the products that fit us the best based on what we needed and helped me pick out specific equipment.” said Ellsworth.
Hussar was appreciative of Engler and said, “Charlie asked all the right questions. He wanted to know the heights of these two units without casters so they would fit under this counter. He even asked me the angle of the ice maker top so he could cut the counter to match. He made my job easy.”
With a second location, Ellsworth also had the opportunity to fix bottleneck issues in the kitchen to make the restaurant run smoother.
“Everything I did over there, I did wrong. That’s why this is a learning experience,” said Ellsworth in reference to their original location. “You notice everything is forward facing here. Everybody’s looking forward except the people in the back doing the sandwiches and using the grills. It’s going to create a better flow and continuously keep us in contact with the customers,” he continued.
Having the opportunity to start fresh also came with challenges, as Ellsworth struggled to get financing.
After cashing out his entire 401k to build the original location, he hopes his experiences may also help future restaurant owners with the things they should know upfront.
“The other store managed itself on its own and didn’t lose money. It didn’t make tons of money but we didn’t want it to. We just wanted to make it for the community and move forward,” said Ellsworth.
Without taking out loans, they had no business credit built up to expand their business to a new location. What ultimately started with a bank offering assistance, turned into a denial on the building and all of the equipment.
Hussar stepped in and recommended Quick Spark Financial from his experiences in the industry and with some extra work, got the project financed.
“It might have been a little bit expensive, but we got it done. We put our home up to get the project going and when you get to that point it’s either do or die. You’re either going to jump in the frying pan or make it happen and that’s what we did. Jeff helped us get through all of that and Burkett has just been a wealth of knowledge, support, and information for us,” said Ellsworth.
The new location is on track to open early June and looks to be a really unique place to visit.
“It was always a dream to expand and this, believe it or not, is the second busiest corner in Monroe County. We are a direct trade coffee supplier and source our coffee from Actual Coffee Roasting Company. We also do bubble tea and were one of the first big bubble tea businesses in our community. A lot of people from Monroe and Point Place drive to us and a lot of people just come from everywhere,” said Ellsworth.
From an upstairs lounge serving beer and wine, to the coffee and sandwich shop downstairs and unique art on the walls from local artist Ben Crane, you won’t find another establishment like it in the area.
Crane, a former student of Ellsworth’s wife who kept in touch with the family over the years, painted almost the entire inside of the shop by brush.
“The Ellsworth’s expressed a love for nature in the surrounding area, with Lake Erie in mind specifically. To represent that, we decided on lots of walleye jumping from aquatically colored flowers to cover all the bases. I wanted to cover as much of the walls as I could to get the most color, chaos, and cohesion,” said Crane.
Along with a new location, DaCapo will soon be getting a new Burkett sales representative, as Hussar is set to retire at the beginning of June. Ellsworth is not worried about the transition though, knowing Hussar would not put him in a bad position, and said, “Jeff has gone to bat for me more than you’ll ever know. He’s been phenomenal. I can’t praise him enough. We have enough of a relationship that he’s not going to leave me hanging.”
Hussar, already onboarding his replacement, is thankful for the relationship that he and Mark have built over the years.
“Building relationships is what this business is really all about. Taking care of the customer in the difficult times, helping them through the bumps in the road and taking care of them through unexpected equipment breakdowns. Those are the relationships that last a lifetime,” said Hussar.
When asked if he would be keeping the first location, Ellsworth responded with a resounding yes. The second location is a testament to the success of the first and when Ellsworth and his wife decide to retire, they plan on handing the business over to one of their three boys, Zach, Alex, or Cole.
“It’s a legacy that we want to live on to our families,” said Ellsworth.