ST. GEORGE — On almost a daily basis, new businesses are popping up all around St. George and Washington County.
The latest business in the works is a Dutch Brothers drive-thru coffee shop on River Road northwest of 1450 South in St. George which is set to open sometime next year.
The project’s developer, Arizona-based Property Nine Development, has close ties to St. George. One of the company’s principal owners, Michael Digangi, has family members in the area including his father-in-law, Tony Allen, who is a partner on the Dutch Brothers joint venture development project joined by Brian Johnson.
“We are basically single-tenant net lease developers out of Scottsdale,” Digangi said. “We have development projects across the southwest. Dutch Brothers are one of our active tenants along with other publicly traded companies such as Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Circle K, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Raising Cane’s.”
Digangi is proud of having a large portfolio of companies that are building approximately 50 projects across the southwest.
“We are excited about the St. George Dutch Brothers and bringing them into the market,” Digangi said. “I know this is going to be a good site and a good fit for Dutch Brothers. I think it will be a pretty good entry point to St. George.”
Dutch Bros. Coffee was founded in 1992 by Dane and Travis Boersma, brothers of Dutch descent.
After three generations in the dairy business, government regulations forced the brothers to sell their cows. What could have been a devastating event turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Armed with a double-headed espresso machine and 100 pounds of coffee beans, the brothers set up a pushcart and began passing out samples. From that humble beginning, Dutch Bros. has grown to more than 300 coffee shops across seven states.
They are the largest, privately held drive-thru coffee shop in the nation.
From a business standpoint, Digangi said, it is a testament to St. George’s economic strength that developers are flocking to Southern Utah. But the financial benefits must be weighed against costs, he added.
“As a developer, we try to compress our costs wherever we can,” he said. “It’s important to iron out exactly what our soft and hard costs are going to during construction.”
Proper sourcing of local and regional construction companies, as well as sub-contractors, is key to any development project.
“Given a small market as St. George it can be difficult to source companies and determine appropriate costs,” Digangi said. “But, we have remained motivated and connected with the resources to compress costs. As long as you have a quality product and a good tenant in a good location, that’s what it’s all about.”
St. George Mayor Jon Pike is pleased with the economic development that has occurred during his time in office. Although not a voting member on the city council, Pike said the growth signals confidence in the local market in the commercial sector and in residential construction as well.
“During the past several years we’ve seen very healthy growth in both areas,” he said. “As the town continues to grow you could expect to hit the radar of certain businesses who would entertain coming to the area.”
Having a major interstate running through town doesn’t hurt St. George’s attractiveness to future businesses either, Pike added.
City officials realize they can foster a positive business climate, but there are limitations on what they can do to attract commercial growth.
“We can’t control land prices, we can’t control labor costs or building materials costs, but what we can do is set land-use expectations when it comes to zoning and density,” Pike said. “It’s important to be ready for growth when it happens.”
Dutch Brothers could not be reached for comment.
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