Joel and Leticia Pollock arrived in Miami in 2010 with a dream of launching a world-class coffee business. Drawing on their knowledge of roasting, brewing and serving coffee, they opened Panther Coffee in Wynwood—an emerging neighborhood north of downtown Miami that has risen to become the city’s artistic and design hub.
"We knew how to make great coffee, but had to learn how to run a business," says Joel Pollock. The couple borrowed money from their parents, received a loan from a local foundation and tapped the business expertise of their landlord, a legendary real estate entrepreneur dedicated to revitalizing Wynwood.
"We worked really hard to establish ourselves," says Leticia Ramos Pollock, who was eight months pregnant when their store opened. "But we were also in the right place at the right time."
Panther Coffee quickly became a gathering spot for the artistic community, generating buzz and attracting long lines of customers, first at its Wynwood store and then at its second store in Miami Beach. Before long, the company's wholesale business also took off — hotels and restaurants around the country began ordering Panther's special coffees, roasted to capture the subtle tastes and aromas of green coffee beans for their customers. In 2011, Panther Coffee began winning a long string of awards.
Throughout Panther’s phenomenal business growth and expansion, the Pollocks received steady support from Chase. When Joel and Leticia were ready to grow their retail and wholesale businesses, Chase was able to expand the scope of the relationship to allow for their continued expansion. "Having access to credit was huge for us," says Joel Pollock. "It allowed us to keep building our family business without having to bring in equity partners."
Chase relationship manager, Fabio N., was happy to play a role in helping Panther Coffee to become a staple of the Wynwood community, and to expand into multiple neighborhoods in the Miami area. "Panther Coffee is a great success story, not just for one neighborhood, but for the entire Miami community," he says.
The Pollocks plan to open three more stores in Miami, and to turn a large commercial space in Little Haiti into Panther’s headquarters, all by the end of 2015. Their new building will feature a coffee store, a wholesale facility, and a barista training lab—made possible in part by a real estate loan from Chase. These two expansions will create another 50-60 jobs—ultimately helping to strengthen the local and neighborhood economy.
"Buying a building was a major step for us," says Joel Pollock. "It gives us the ability to take our business to the next level, create new jobs in the community and continue our quest to become one of the top ten coffee brands in the world."
To learn more about Panther Coffee, visit: www.panthercoffee.com