2010 Business Persons of the Year
Brothers brew up coffee, personal service at Biggby
By LeAnne Rogers • OBSERVER STAFF WRITER • April 22, 2010
Westland Biggby Coffee owners Mo and Al Elfakir pride themselves on providing customers with more than a great cup of coffee.
“We try to take it to another level. What makes us different is the atmosphere and the service,” said Mo Elfakir, who opened the business with his brother, Al, in October 2007. “We want you to have fun and drink a great cup of coffee.”
The brothers, who have a third partner in brother-in-law Basem Almasri, are being honored as the 2010 Business Persons of the Year at the Westland Chamber of Commerce's Spring Awards Celebration at Joy Manor this evening.
“It's like Cheers where everyone knows your name. I come here in the morning, Mo lets me take a nap,” said regular customer Dan Stoner, a Garden City resident. “Even though it's a franchise, I hear people call it Mo's coffee shop. These two guys do a helluva job.”
“I'm not even a coffee drink — I'm a tea drinker — but I love the caramel mellows with a shot of espresso,” said Kim Taylor. “I've had Starbucks but it's not as good. This is personal service, they know my name.”
That emphasis on personal service — both Mo and Al Elfakir pride themselves on knowing not just customer names but also about their jobs, families or maybe hobbies — was an attractive part of the Biggby franchise.
“I worked in sales for AT&T for three years and I was looking for a different concept. I was getting bored with phones,” said Mo Elfakir. “Coffee was the No. 1 growing food business. I decided to look at Biggby. I liked how they laid it out. It was all about interaction and making it more personable.”
The Westland store has been recognized for those efforts by Biggby Coffee. Last fall at the Biggby franchisees meeting, the Elfakirs were presented with the Todd Miles Award, corporate recognition of exceptional skills and service from among 125 stores.
Originally from Sterling Heights, the brothers decided to locate their business in Westland. They not only work together but also live together in Westland.
“I liked the demographics and this was a new shopping center — it was one of the nicest plazas and the location,” Elfakir said. “Also it was the city officials I met and the chamber of commerce. They were willing to help us. I spoke to the mayor (William Wild) and he seemed like a business person. He was willing to help us get the doors open.”
The Elfakirs are also active supporters of local fund-raisers through donations of coffee, special fund-raising mugs and other donations. Among the programs the store has supported are Painting the Town Pink, Westland's H2O Zone water park, the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
“We have mugs for Relay for Life. We're on Team Hope and we've raised close to $800 so far,” said Elfakir.
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