Bad Ass Coffee Co. stirs up controversy

For Nelson Frey, the name “Bad Ass Coffee Co.” conjures images of donkeys hauling bags of coffee down misty hills with lush, green foliage.

That’s one of the reasons Frey, a 48-year-old former computer consultant and hospital administrator, decided to buy into the gourmet coffee franchise and open a store in a Portsmouth Road shopping center just outside of Manassas.

But some customers at the neighboring Family Christian Stores and Toys “R” Us thought differently after Frey posted the words “Bad Ass” above his store, which is set to open in November.

“There are toy and book stores for children nearby. I don’t think it’s an appropriate place for the word to be used,” said Shannon Nelson, a Manassas mother who was shocked when her two sons, 8 and 5, pointed the sign out.

Nelson says other parents she’s met at the Toys “R” Us have been bothered by the sign as well.

“If I’m correcting [my kids] at home that that’s language people shouldn’t be using, it shouldn’t be up on a billboard,” she said.

Some customers at Family Christian Stores have commented about the sign, a worker at the business said Tuesday. But management and workers have no problem with it.

“We like to get coffee in the morning. When it opens, I’m sure some of our workers will go over and get coffee,” the worker said.

Surila Kapoor, who along with her husband runs an Italian deli near the store, didn’t see what the big deal was either.

“It’s just a name,” she said.

Joan Huntington, who runs a candy store nearby, felt the same way.

“The sign’s next to a Christian bookstore. But there’s a donkey clearly with it. I don’t know what the problem is,” she said.

Frey spent months researching various companies before deciding that the Bad Ass Coffee Co. of Hawaii was the ideal franchise to buy into.

The company opened its first store on the Hawaiian island of Kona in 1989, selling coffee brewed from the island’s beans. Since then, Bad Ass has expanded into Utah, Alaska, Florida, California, Idaho, Washington and Canada.

Frey’s store will be the first of its kind in Virginia.

“We’re having Starbucks coming in around here. But this gives people more options. And this is 100 percent American-grown coffee,” he said.

As for the trouble caused by the name, Frey doesn’t mind the free publicity.

“I can now save my advertising dollars for better spots,” he said.

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