Four partners are behind the opening of Aroma Joe’s on Western Avenue in Augusta.
Jessica Pray, 30, Ross Pray, 32, of Springvale, Steve Pracher, 34, of Gardiner and Meghan Lucier, 40, of Kennebunk, already have an Aroma Joe’s up and running in South Portland, and their second coffee franchise has been slated to open in Augusta on Feb. 18.
Aroma Joe’s was founded in 2000 by four cousins from Maine, who remain involved in the business. The company’s headquarters are in Portland and there are more than 60 franchise locations in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Florida. Aroma Joe’s serves coffee and espresso drinks, infused blends and a a signature energy drink.
While the coffee shop was still under construction, Pray and Pracher talked about how their side gig developed.
What is your side gig?
Steve Pracher: Owning our business is the side gig. I’m pharmacist for the CVS. That’s what I do, 32, 34 hours a week. Ross (Jessica’s husband, also a pharmacist, for Hannaford) and I decided we wanted to get into business together and he came across Aroma Joe’s because they live down in the Sanford area, so that’s where they kind of got known in Maine, and we just kind of went from there. We opened the one up in South Portland.
Jessica: Diving into it more by opening up a second location, I have left my full-time job as a dental hygienist to help make all of this happen. So I work on the marketing and do a little bit of the operations in South Portland, helping find our new staff here that’s going to be serving coffee here in in Augusta. I kind of do all different side jobs.
(In the Augusta location) we’ll have an espresso bar with a couple of stools, so people can order here or at the drive-thru window. We’re really well known for our proprietary energy drink. It’s called Rush; we mix it with different flavors and it’s one of our most popular drinks. We also have smoothies, teas, frozen coffee and specialty lemonades.
Why do you do it?
Jessica: We don’t have the time, but we have the desire to be financially independent, and spread our portfolio out by investing in brands that we find promising, so we feel that way about Aroma Joe’s.
Steve: I think I’ll always be a pharmacist at least part time, but it would be kind of neat to just build our own future and do this.
Jessica: We have some goals, so we have to stay busy. We both have families — we both have two daughters — so we’re pretty busy. It’s a team effort. There’s lots of communication and lots of time management, I guess.
Steve: You have to have fun with it.
Jessica: It’s scary, but it’s been a fun adventure, for sure.