Little Jimmie’s Coffee Co. owners split after realizing ‘we wanted to do different things’

 Jimmie Reed (left) and Jimmy Duran stand in front of 26 Maplewood Mall, before it was transformed into a coffee shop, during happier times. (Neema Roshania/WHYY)

Jimmie Reed (left) and Jimmy Duran stand in front of 26 Maplewood Mall, before it was transformed into a coffee shop, during happier times. (Neema Roshania/WHYY)

Jimmie and Jimmy have parted ways.

The business partners who worked together to build Little Jimmie’s Bakery Café in Mt. Airy and Little Jimmie’s Coffee Roasters on Maplewood Mall in Germantown have severed their professional relationship.

Jimmie Reed will continue to run his location at 6669 Germantown Ave. with a new coffee vendor and will move forward with his new site, Little Jimmie’s Bake House at 6620 Germantown Ave.

Jimmy Duran will be sole owner of the location at 26 Maplewood Mall.

Reed said the two “decided we wanted to do different things.” Duran said it was matter of differing expectations.

Popular brand

Reed, who had previously been the manager of a Chipotle’s franchise, opened Little Jimmie’s in 2011. It quickly became a social and economic anchor of that section of Germantown Avenue, drawing raves from patrons and community leaders.

The Jimmy and Jimmie relationship began in Nov. 2013 when Duran became Reed’s primary coffee supplier at the Mt. Airy café, providing a high-quality product from Duran’s homeland, the Dominican Republic.

Duran also was intrigued by the new vision for Maplewood Mall, which will undergo a $2.2 million redesign. He asked Reed to become a partner and bring his business model to the Germantown location.

Little Jimmie’s Coffee Roasters opened on the Mall last March, but customers and neighbors realized something was amiss when the location closed temporarily in August.

Making an investment

According to Duran, Reed expected him to have more involvement in the daily operations of the new café.

“But I’m not a day-to-day operations person,” Duran said. “I was focused on growth, not on other aspects.”

Duran also claimed he invested $38,000 in the new business, and expected Reed to carry a share of that investment.

Reed, however, did not meet “his commitment for the money,” Duran claimed.

“It turned into a tug of war,” Duran said. “When I asked him sign a promissory note, he asked to sever the partnership.”

A $5,000 loan Duran received with support from the city Department of Commerce and the local community development corporation was returned.

“We decided for the sake of the brand and our own benefit, it was best to return it,” Duran said.

What’s next?

Duran is currently looking for a new operator for the Maplewood Mall café, which may be renamed after his coffee supply company, Verde Imports.

“By the end of this month, I want to have something going in there,” he said.

Of his partnership with Reed, he added, “Nothing is ever perfect in business. We tried to make it work, but it didn’t.”

Reed had no comment on the investment agreement at Maplewood Mall when contacted by NewsWorks this week.

“We grew apart,” Reed said. “The bottom line is [that] we both agreed it was best for us to go our separate ways. It’s a very nice space, and I wish the best for him.”

Reed may be back with a location in Germantown in the future.

“I’ve been in the Germantown area for 17 years, and I care about it not just for an investment, but for what’s best for the community,” he said.

NewsWorks has partnered with independent news gatherer PlanPhilly to provide regular, in-depth, timely coverage of planning, zoning and development news. Contact Alan Jaffe at alanjaffe@mac.com.

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