Two brothers – and graduates of The University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Management – are hoping their business plans will re-energize a portion of Nob Hill and entice university students to shop, stroll and study in the neighborhood. Jacob and Isaac Fox, class of ’13 and ’16 respectively, are the co-owners of Little Bear Coffee Co., and just opened a second location near the old Monte Vista Fire Station.
“Really this is about building community. Our motto is ‘Love People, Use Coffee’ and that extends beyond Little Bear,” Jacob said. “We want people to feel a sense of belonging here in Albuquerque, the way we do.”
That sense of purpose and belonging is seeped into every piece of the duo’s Nob Hill plan, from bringing onboard local artists and businesses, to preserving the historic feel of the iconic building while still making it marketable to a younger clientele.
Although the white and red “Disco” sign still stands tall on Central Ave. near Bryn Mawr Dr., the corner of Nob Hill it oversees has an all new minimalist look. The store that used to boast party rentals is now the home of And Stuff retail collective, featuring local independent sellers – offering books, plants, clothes, candles, jewelry and men’s fashion accessories. Nestled next to the collective is the first Albuquerque location of Organ Mountain Outfitters, a Las Cruces based apparel company with a mission to give back to New Mexico.
“Not only are they partnering with the Zia Pueblo to license the Zia symbol on their clothes, they are also donating 10 percent of sales back to the pueblo. They are also donating portions of their proceeds to APS to provide lunches for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford them,” Jacob explained. “That’s the kind of giving back to New Mexico we want to encourage.”
“Our state is awesome, and we want to break down silos between communities, because we think New Mexico is worth that,” Isaac added.
Anchoring the new retail collective is Little Bear Coffee’s second location (the original location remains open in the Northeast Heights). Named Best Local Coffee Shop of 2019 by Albuquerque the Magazine, Little Bear burst onto the scene in 2017. It immediately gained something of a cult following and now sees roughly 4,000 transactions per week between the two locations. In addition, coffee roasted by Little Bear is used at local boutiques around town and sold in bulk at the two locations and online. What started as a fledging idea during a class at Anderson School of Management is now a profitable enterprise.
“In one of my classes, we had to create a business plan,” Isaac explained. “Jacob and I had always talked about how neat it would be to open a coffee shop in Nob Hill, so I pitched the idea to my group, and they ran with it.”
Although he admits not much of the original plan was actually implemented in their current Nob Hill business model, there is a coffee shop involved; and the current plan includes a restaurant too.
“We did recently buy Nob Hill Bar and Grill and it’s now open with brand new beverage and food menus,” Jacob said. “But we shut down the night club portion and are refocusing on it being a dining experience.”
Soon the experience will include a cocktail lounge, which the brothers are hoping to open in the space adjacent to the grill sometime in early 2020. Standing at the center of the growing real estate empire, the Fox brothers and their business partners hope all this growth will draw in people from UNM, as well as other parts of the city. Their mission is simply to regenerate the once-vibrant Nob Hill into a thriving center of the community.
“These are our old stomping grounds, and we’re excited to bring new energy and vision to the area,” Isaac concluded.