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Fast-Growing Scooter’s Coffee Names Joe Thornton CEO

Scooters Coffee CEO Joe Thornton

Incoming Scooter’s Coffee CEO Joe Thornton. Press photo.

Nebraska-based Scooter’s Coffee, the second-fastest-growing coffee chain in the United States over the past year, has named longtime restaurant and hospitality executive Joe Thornton as incoming CEO, effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Thornton, who has been the franchise-focused company’s president since June of 2022, will succeed longtime Scooter’s executive Todd Graeve, who has been CEO since 2016 and plans to retire, according to the company.

According to the recent Project Café USA report on the United States coffee shop market, Scooter’s Coffee opened 224 net new stores over the past 12 months, following only Starbucks in the number of net new outlets.

The, company — which was founded in 1998 by Don and Linda Eckles in a suburb of Omaha — says it is currently “approaching” 750 locations in 30 states, with plans to exceed 1,000 locations by the end of 2024.

Scooter’s Coffee February 2022

Scooter’s Coffee 2022 press photo.

“I am honored to continue the leadership legacy and lead Scooter’s Coffee into the future in support of our franchisees and employees. The family roots, core values and stability of this company are unmatched,” Thornton said in an announcement from the company today. “I knew this company was special from the moment that I arrived, and I have a deep commitment to ensure that we continue to build an enduring brand.”

Scooter’s Coffee has helped pioneer the drive-through coffee concept in the United States, offering small-format stores while prioritizing speed and convenience. Coffees for the brand’s signature drink, the Caramelicious, and all other coffee offerings continue to come from the sibling roasting company founded by the Eckleses, Harvest Roasting.

Prior to joining Scooter’s, incoming CEO Thornton was most recently the COO at hospitality provider HMSHost. He was formerly COO at Jamba Juice, and spent 25 years combined involved in leadership and franchise development roles with Starbucks and Blockbuster.

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