Brewing up growth
Veteran-owned Black Rifle Coffee percolates plans for nationwide expansion including Dallas-Fort Worth
Veteran-founded Black Rifle Coffee Co., which maintains corporate offices in San Antonio and Salt Lake City, plans to caffeinate a national expansion with $225 million that it hopes to raise from transforming into a publicly traded business. Dallas-Fort Worth is one of its target markets.
By the end of 2023, Black Rifle Coffee wants to have 13 stores in DFW, along with seven stores in San Antonio, nine in Houston, and almost 80 company-owned and franchised stores in total, it says. Black Rifle is a purveyor of ground, whole-bean, and ready-to-drink coffee.
One of the company's first eight standalone shops is in North Richland Hills (5121 Rufe Snow Dr.) According to the website, stores are coming soon to Benbrook (9001 U.S. Highway 377 South) and Plano (901 N Central Expy.).
The company also offers coffee online and through retailers such as Sam’s Club, Walmart, H-E-B, Bass Pro Shops, and Cabela’s. They also sell Black Rifle apparel and gear.
Aside from the DFW and San Antonio areas, the company’s existing stores are in Clarksville, Tennessee; Layton, Utah; Moore, Oklahoma; Niceville, Florida; and Savannah, Georgia. With the $225 million to be raised from the proposed merger, Black Rifle would aim to grow its store count to 78 in 2023.
Ultimately, they envision being a chain with more than 1,300 coffee shops across the country, they say.
On November 2, Black Rifle unveiled plans to go public through a merger with a “blank check” company, Austin-based SilverBox Engaged Merger Corp. I. SilverBox Engaged Merger completed a $345 million initial public offering of its stock in March; its stock now trades on the NASDAQ stock market.
The sole purpose of a “blank check” company is to eventually merge with or acquire another business. At the outset, such companies do not engage in full-fledged business operations. If the merger goes through, the stock of the new company, BRC Inc., would trade on the NASDAQ market. The $10-a-share transaction would value Black Rifle at roughly $1.7 billion.
Black Rifle, founded in 2014, expects its 2021 revenue to reach $230 million, up from $164 million in 2020 and $82 million in 2019.
“From the time I was a one-man operation in my garage with nothing more than a one-pound roaster, I wanted to use coffee as a means of bringing people together around the common idea of honoring those who serve this great nation. We founded Black Rifle Coffee to serve the highest-quality coffee while supporting veterans and their families,” Evan Hafer, founder and CEO of Black Rifle, says in a news release.
Hafer, who served as a Green Beret in the Army, splits his time between San Antonio and Salt Lake City.
A portion of every Black Rifle purchase goes to causes supporting military veterans, active-duty military members, first responders, “and the American way of life.”
Given its conservative “American way of life” bent, Black Rifle has attracted both admirers and critics. In July, The New York Times Magazinepublished a lengthy profile of the company with this headline: “Can the Black Rifle Coffee Company Become the Starbucks of the Right?”
The company gained fans in conservative political circles during the administration of President Donald Trump.
“Before long, Black Rifle became the unofficial coffee of the MAGA universe, winning public endorsements from Sean Hannity and Donald Trump Jr.,” the Times reported.
Along the way, Black Rifle has become entangled in controversies over the Black Lives Matter movement, the January 6 riot at the Capitol, and other hot-button issues. The Times says the company has tried to distance itself from some of its most divisive customers.
“How do you build a cool, kind of irreverent, pro-Second Amendment, pro-America brand in the MAGA era,” the Times quotes Hafer as saying, “without doubling down on the MAGA movement and also not being called a [expletive] RINO by the MAGA guys?”