- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 06 April 2016
- Written by JAMES ROMANO | STAFF WRITER
A coffee lover can walk into any of the 10 locations with the prestigiously known black crow imprinted on the doorway as they are hit with the positively potent aroma of brewing coffee infused with a bit of charisma and joy.
Rook, the popular local brand of coffee that can be commonly found in the hands of University students at any time during the day, belongs to the entrepreneurial visionary, Holly Migliaccio. Migliaccio, the co-founder and owner of Rook Coffee, said that Rook focuses on three aspects: quality, simplicity, and experience.
“We are constantly trying to get the product to be better and better and better,” Migliaccio said. “We want to make sure that its product is always at its best.” Not only does Migliaccio and her business partner and co-founder of Rook, Shawn Kingsley, focus on quality coffee, but they also emphasize the importance of quality relationships with their customers and even the farmers who supply the coffee beans.
Migliaccio believes that staying focused as business owners on exactly what they are good at is key in terms of simplicity. “We are good at coffee,” Migiaccio said. “It’s a very, very simple process. It’s all about Rook, all about the coffee, all about the conversation.”
Migliaccio and Kingsley do not wholesale their coffee even though they receive hundreds upon hundreds of requests for its vending in grocery stores, restaurants, etcetera. “We are good at serving a cup of coffee over the counter in a retail setting. We want to open more stores, spread our footprint, and do what we know how to do.”
Rook staffers and Migliaccio are dedicated to the ‘over-the-top experience’ upon entering any of the Rook locations. She hires individuals who are friendly, nice, and want to have a conversation. Michael Morse, a junior business student at the University, goes to Rook every single day and most often orders the cold brew New Orleans. “Aside from the coffee, the employees always greet me by name and make me feel like I’m more of a friend than customer,” Morse said. Migliaccio said that Rook fosters excellence in product, service, and overall experience.
Christine DiBiase, a senior English education student, said that she was ‘blown away’ by how much better Rook was than what she would normally purchase at other coffee chains. “It doesn’t taste artificial,” she said. You can tell it’s handcrafted with a dedication that you don’t get at other places.” DiBiase believes that the atmosphere the coffee shop itself expresses the same authenticity, with a homey feel and friendly employees.
Migliaccio, born in Oceanport, NJ, attended college at the University of Delaware, where she received a degree in education. Prior to Rook, she worked sales at Hotjobs.com as well as Yahoo. She decided that a change needed to be made so she could achieve happiness.
After quitting her job in July 2008 with no plan, Migliaccio traveled to different places before she met up with her childhood friend, Kingsley, in San Francisco, CA. Together, the duo brainstormed day in and day out for nine months before opening their first Rook location in Oakhurst in January 2010.
Before they decided on their current locations within the area, Migliaccio and Kingsley wanted to start the business in Brooklyn. Even though their plans changed and the project moved to Monmouth County, the name, Rook, stuck. Coincidentally, a rook is a black crow. Sketches began and the logo was created.
When asked if Rook was even a thought five to 10 years before its grand opening when Migliaccio was still at her sales job, the answer was absolutely not. However, she did have this “entrepreneurial itch.” “As an entrepreneur, you are using your skill sets to do whatever you would like,” said Migliaccio. “I love coffee and I’m super passionate about it.”
With wit, creativity, and a big idea, anything is possible if one trusts in their abilities, talents, and their support system. This outlook seems to have worked out pretty well for Migliaccio as she continues to invest her time and diligence into her passion.
IMAGE TAKEN from nj.com