State's Hoops Hinder Java Jo'z Progress

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The latest addition to the coffee culture of the Rim country has had a slow start, but things are starting to perk now.

Escrow on the property for the Java Jo'z Coffee & More drive-thru closed the middle of March. Jackie Jeffrey hoped to have her business operating in time to catch the area's spring and early summer traffic.

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Italian coffee and fresh baked goods will be featured at the newest addition to coffee businesses in Payson. Owned by Jackie Jeffrey, the shop is scheduled to open the middle of June.

But because the business is the first of its kind, a drive-thru operation in a modular structure, the state made progress next to impossible until just last week. Now she expects the business to be up and running by mid-June.

Every modular building brought into Arizona has to be inspected by the state's Office of Manufactured Housing, she explained.

"Because this was the first one, the state decided they had to hold on to it and make doubly sure it met the standards," Jeffrey said. The contractor for the project, Stan Langham of Langham Construction, dealt with the bureaucrats, and Jeffrey, who holds the license for the business, and her husband, Grant Whitledge, who owns the property with her, were on the sidelines.

"They had no checklist," Whitledge said, so the process of approvals was being done in a piecemeal fashion.

"I could see it dragging out indefinitely," he said.

"Grant said he'd had it and called Jake Flake," Jeffrey said.

"I called him at home on a Sunday and he called back," Whitledge said. "Just as individuals out here, we had zero influence on the bureaucracy."

"Senator Jake Flake stepped in and provided tremendous help," Jeffrey said.

The senator set up a meeting with Eric Borg, director of the Department of Building and Fire Safety, and asked that an executive from Java Jo'z attend as well.

"Roy Snowden, the CEO of Java Jo'z, flew in," Jeffrey said. Everyone sat down with Flake on May 12 and the next day the state gave the authorization to proceed.

"Jake Flake is the perfect example of a politician," Jeffrey said. "He was wonderful at that meeting."

The senator also suggested the manufactured housing office create a checklist so no one else has to deal with the headaches Jeffrey and Whitledge were handed.

"Normally (permits) are the town's authority," Whitledge said. "From the very beginning the town has been wonderful. We have no complaints with them."

Jeffrey said Gila County District One Supervisor Tommie Martin also was helpful.

Before deciding on the Java Jo'z business, Jeffrey and Whitledge did very careful research.

"I read where drive thru coffee is the coming thing," Jeffrey said. She pointed out an article that stated Starbucks is planning to expand into drive-thrus in rural areas. The couple toyed with the idea of building their own business or purchasing a franchise, then decided to go with a turn key operation. That decision led to Jeffrey's purchase of the license for Java Jo'z Coffee & More.

"We wanted to do this before Starbucks did," she said.

Java Jo'z is based in Florida and has businesses in only four other states: South Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Texas. Jeffrey's will be the first of the stores in Arizona.

"The location (at the corner of North Beeline and Airport Road) is very good," she said.

"More cars travel on Beeline than on 260," Whitledge said.

The shop is going to be only eight feet wide and 24 feet long, it will have both a drive-thru and walk-up window, but no inside service.

"Fletcher's (the shop's neighbor to the west) is really excited. They have at least 35 people a day who want a cup of coffee while they're waiting for the work to be done on their cars," Jeffrey said.

The "more" at the shop will be fresh baked goods from Bashas' and the coffee will be an Italian brand that is the top-rated in surveys Jeffrey has seen.

"We're offering quality, convenience and fast service," Whitledge said.

There is already a staff of nine hired and they will all be specially trained by experts in the field.

"We will have people served in two minutes," Jeffrey said.

Plans are for the shop to be open from 5:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.

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