Locally bred Wells Coffee Co. has opened its second café, and, for Fort Lauderdale coffee loyalists, the location is super-familiar. The coffee shop is housed in the former brick-and-mortar home of Grind Coffee Project in the city’s Tarpon River neighborhood.
The outpost beams with a wall of windows and is anchored by a glowing blue bar with a white subway tile backsplash. Inside, the menu of coffee concoctions ranges from pour-overs to horchata cold brew to latte art gems – all anchored by Wells’ freshly roasted beans.
“There has always been the want and desire to service different neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale,” says Wells Coffee co-owner Brandon Wells, who operates the business alongside his wife, Nicole. “Grind Coffee Project was very well-placed, and when we heard it wasn’t going to be there any longer, we knew something for coffee lovers needed to go there. We believe in our product and the experience, so why not there?”
The new Wells Coffee location opened on October 8, but the company has had its eye on the location since early 2020. In a roller-coaster scenario, Wells had been in discussions with the former building owner to lease the space after Grind, operated by owner Yoni Martin, ended its lease. (Martin, whom Wells credits for building an existing coffee audience into the space, could not be reached for comment on the transaction or his future plans.)
With the sale of the building, Wells turned to the selling agent, Jay Alexander, and asked to be connected with the new owner in order to make a pitch to take over the space.
Wells Coffee closed on leasing the space in early September, got the keys the following week, and was able to open in less than a month.
The flagship Wells location, on NE Second Avenue in Flagler Village, remains its sole roasting hub. Final touches for the Tarpon River space include greenery accents and perhaps a mural. But the new spot has already attracted a clientele of remote work warriors and others in search of a specialty-grade caffeine fix.
“I think the pandemic, believe it or not, has ended up being catalytic for our coffee and our brand,” Wells says. “Like everyone, we initially took a huge hit. But we inevitably felt the incredible support of our community and we pulled every lever and pushed every button in terms of what we could do to make it through. There was also a pent-up demand — people working remotely wanted a sense of place beyond the four walls of an apartment. They found some solace in working at our café. We also got sharper as a company during this time. And, I am so proud to say, we didn’t have to let go of any employees through it all.”
With a second location up and running, Wells is still looking ahead, though he's not prepared to divulge specifics.
“We do have something in the works that I am excited about. It would be a slightly different expression of our brand that we would look to open in the next 18 to 24 months,” he hints. “And, it would certainly be coffee-forward.”
Wells Coffee Tarpon River. 599 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-533-2287; wellscoffees.com.