Stacha Madsen is no stranger to converting cycle shops and restaurant spaces that went dark into new locations for The Blend Coffee and Cocktails brand – and now she’s doing it once again.
Madsen, who founded the coffee shop company in 2006, has inked a 10-year lease for the former Checker’s drive-thru site at 8199 U.S. Highway 19 N. in Pinellas Park.
“We’ve been negotiating this deal for the past two months going back and forth. We signed the deal and are moving very quickly,” Madsen said.
The signs have been installed and a worker can be seen at the site painting the exterior a warm green color. The next step: sprucing up the lot with crushed shells and tropical plants.
“The prime U.S. 19 location will drive brand awareness and net so many new customers,” said Jessica Dwyer, realtor at the Dalton Wade Real Estate Group.
Dwyer has helped Madsen find and secure off and on-market sites.
“It’s been over four years of us working together to ensure success and it’s really paying off in Tampa Bay. Developers, landlords and city officials now seek out The Blend to be part of their tenant mix,” Dwyer said.
This isn’t Madsen’s first time flipping a former Checker’s. She renovated another location in Pasadena.
“In Pasadena, we have a walk-up/curb pick-up side and a drive-thru side, but because of this high-profile location, I know it’s going to be very busy and people are used to the two Checker’s lanes,” Madsen said.
One of The Blend’s employees is an artist who will paint palm fronds on the columns to replicate The Blend’s logo design. Madsen said she may also invite other local “under the radar” artists to paint the columns a certain theme.
With work underway, Madsen said the Pinellas Park shop may open to coffee connoisseurs by October.
Madsen recently unveiled plans for a location in the Magnolia Heights neighborhood at 3001 16th St. N., which was previously occupied by the Body Fit Institute.
Earlier this month, she opened a Palmetto storefront at 9510 Buffalo Road after enduring a nine-month ordeal of working with three different contractors and remaking the bar.
“Honestly, I didn’t see myself having more than one, and now I have five with four more in the works,” Madsen said. “It would be fun to help bring this to other communities and branch out.”
Madsen’s business has grown to 50 employees, including multiple store managers. Her daughter, Nichole, acts as the district manager and her sons are also involved.
“I work with each manager on building the teams. I enjoy making sure everything is consistent,” Madsen said.
The Blend’s other locations include a cycle store-turned-coffee shop on 4th Street and at 2760 34th St. N., which was previously home to a sandwich shop.
Madsen said she plans to expand the brand to the Lutz/Land O’ Lakes area.
“I met a developer who is building these boutique shops in the area and saw an opportunity,” Madsen said.
In addition to the brick-and-mortar locations, Madsen said she’s always desired to have a coffee truck to cater large events. She was recently hired to provide drinks for a wedding and created different coffee flights – one for the bride and one for the groom.
Over the years, Madsen has been approached several times by people interested in franchising the brand.
“I don’t think franchising is in the near future, but it’s something to think about, especially if we are looking to expand outside of the state,” Madsen said.