VIRGINIA BEACH — Mitch Peters found a way to bring a little bit of home to Virginia Beach.
The Michigander and his wife Cathy opened Virginia’s first Biggby Coffee founded in Michigan on Jan. 10 at 2422 Princess Anne Road. The chain has more than 300 locations in 13 states, mostly in the Midwest.
Mitch Peters knew the brand well and enjoyed the coffeehouse when visiting relatives. Founded in 1995 as Beaner’s Coffee, the chain was rebranded to reflect the capital letter B in its signage — and the way regulars called it.
Peters spent 23 years in the Air Force. His career took him to New York and Delaware, followed by marriage and two children with stints in South Carolina, California and Missouri.
He retired as a master sergeant in 2014 and the couple were keen to take the family back to Cathy Peters’ old turf in Virginia Beach.
Born and raised in Hampton Roads, Cathy Peters graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in Parks and Recreation Management. For most of the past decade she has worked in the Virginia Beach public library system.
Her husband was eager to start his next business and always had a passion for starting his own business, she said.
“It’s been years in the works and has finally borne fruit,” said Cathy Peters.
“When we found out that their franchise was opening up to Virginia, I thought, ‘Well, why not be the first to bring it here?'” he said.
The couple employs 22 part-time staff.
Known for its coffees and espressos made from scratch by a team of baristas, Biggby offers an extensive menu of teas, more than 30 crème freeze smoothies, bragels (bagel sandwiches), muffins and other snacks take away.
Both Mitch and Cathy Peters emphasized Biggby’s culture and community-based focus and were excited to become entrepreneurs in Virginia Beach. They found the site, the former bank building across from the community center, and began the renovation. It was built circa 1969 and was originally the First & Merchants Bank.
“My aunt actually worked at this bank many, many years ago,” said Cathy Peters.
It has been vacant since PNC Bank closed the branch in 2018.
Extensive renovations turned it into a café. The drive-up window is now the store’s drive-thru and the vault is currently used for storage. Cathy Peters said they would like to convert it into a meeting room or sitting area in time.
Having faced slowdowns due to the pandemic and resulting supply chain issues, the pair are excited to introduce the Biggby’s region. Mitch Peters knows that those familiar with the brand are already sold.
“For many of them, it’s a piece of home after moving out,” he says. “They live and die by the brand up there.”
Sandra J Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]