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, at 2422 Princess Anne Road on Jan. 10. 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 he visited relatives. Founded in 1995 as Beaner’s Coffee, the chain was rebranded to reflect the big letter B in its signage — and the way that regulars referred to it.
Peters spent 23 years in the Air Force. His career took him to New York and Delaware, then marriage and two children, followed by duty stations in South Carolina, California and Missouri.
He retired in 2014 as a master sergeant and the couple was eager to move the family back to Cathy Peters’ old stomping grounds of Virginia Beach.
Born and raised in Hampton Roads, Cathy Peters graduated from Old Dominion University with a degree in park and recreation management. Most of the past decade, she worked in the Virginia Beach public library system.
Her husband was eager to start his next venture and always had a passion to start his own business, she said.
“It’s been in the works for years, and finally, has come to fruition,” Cathy Peters said.
“When we found out their franchise was opening up to Virginia, I was like, ‘Well, why shouldn’t we be the first one to bring it here?’” he said.
The husband and wife team employ 22 part-time workers.
Known for its coffees and espressos made from scratch by a team of baristas, Biggby boasts a lengthy menu that includes teas, more than 30 creme freeze smoothies, bragels (bagel sandwiches), muffins and other grab-and-go snacks.
Stressing Biggby’s culture and community-based focus, both Mitch and Cathy Peters were excited to become entrepreneurs in Virginia Beach. They found the location, the former bank building across from the municipal center, and began renovations. Built circa 1969, it was originally First & Merchants Bank.
“My aunt actually worked at this bank many, many years ago,” Cathy Peters said.
It’s been vacant since PNC Bank closed the branch in 2018.
Extensive renovations transformed it into a coffee shop. 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 space or sitting area in time.
After facing slowdowns because of the pandemic and its ensuing supply chain issues, the couple is eager to introduce the region to Biggby’s. Mitch Peters knows those familiar with the brand are already sold.
“For a lot of them, it’s a piece of home after moving away from home,” he said. “They live and die by the brand up there.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, firstname.lastname@example.org