As the line stretched around a shiny new apartment complex, the crowd learned a secret about the mastermind behind New Jersey’s most popular cup of coffee. Eric LeGrand, the namesake behind the new buzz-worthy cafe in his hometown, never tasted a sip of the caffeine craze until the pandemic sent him searching for a way to bring people together.
Hundreds of people lined up to follow the former Rutgers football player and his mother to coffee heaven on Saturday after Governor Phil Murphy and Woodbridge Mayor John McCormac cut the ribbon for LeGrand coffee in his town native of Middlesex County.
“This place is rocking,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be a real anchor and having Eric’s name on the door is so incredibly cool.”
After 20 months of planning, delays and setbacks, the official launch of LeGrand Coffee House drew hundreds of Rutgers fans, friends, former teammates and politicians who celebrated Rutgers’ entrepreneurial spirit. local inspiration.
The “LeGrand” opening on the brick-and-mortar store is LeGrand’s latest attempt. After the pandemic changed nearly every aspect of his life — and even when the coronavirus caught up to him “and nearly killed him” — LeGrand’s fight to finish what he started has never wavered.
“It’s been a grind – no pun intended – but behind the scenes with all that buildup we had to weather inflation, supply chain setbacks, but we were able to weather the storm and we’re there today. today,” LeGrand said.
LeGrand sipped a cup of coffee through a straw. He urged Rutgers fans to try The Scarlet Knight – a mocha coffee with raspberry and chocolate syrup. He sat in front of a mural with his store’s logo on the wall and his Scarlet Knight jersey to the right.
When it comes to the beans and the coffee itself, LeGrand has teamed up with coffee consultants Bellissimo of Portland, Oregon. The idea was born out of a group chat that started every morning during the pandemic, with everyone discussing their morning drinks. LeGrand’s business network continues to expand, but its partner says the successful launch rests solely on LeGrand’s shoulders.
“Eric is the secret to all the success here,” said John Archibold. “It’s amazing to see all the success he has statewide, nationally and internationally, but when you drop a pin here in Woodbridge, you see what’s really going on. “
In the background, a powerful espresso machine, which LeGrand calls his Ferrari, is operated as one of the store’s first customers – the Governor and First Lady Tammy Murphy – orders two iced coffees.
“How cool is that? Murphy said.
Around the store, fans flocked and posed for photos. Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano pressed his lips to LeGrand’s forehead – a moment of fatherly pride, according to the coach who spent countless hours at his player’s bedside following an injury who forever reshaped LeGrand’s life and Rutgers football.
Addressing the crowd, Schiano said: “Eric promised it won’t get in the way of his training because we have a deal. When the cure comes, we’ll go back to that place in MetLife, you get up and we jog out. land together.
LeGrand nodded and the crowd erupted in applause. LeGrand’s role as the face of Rutgers football will never change. Saturday’s opening served as yet another example of several communities rallying behind LeGrand’s fight.
“I’m most proud of the way he attacks every day,” Schiano said. “He wakes up every day and makes the choice to have a good attitude and to attack every day. He is an inspiration to many of us.
It was never lost on Karen LeGrand either. Every setback in LeGrand’s life came with added motivation.
“It’s been a journey, but he takes it all in stride,” Karen LeGrand said before the groundbreaking ceremony. “I was a nervous wreck. There was a pandemic, costs were going up, he couldn’t stock up until a certain date, but he just said ‘mum, I’m going to control what I can control and not m ‘worry about the rest’. He just takes it in stride.
As for the bean review, the consensus was clear: LeGrand’s Coffee House hits home.
Schiano called it “excellent” while Luke Nathan and Geo Baker awaited their first taste.
Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs called it delicious, adding his own expertise as an avid coffee drinker.
“It couldn’t be for a better person. Believe – that’s what he says – and you stand in this beautiful cafe here, and you can have great faith in Eric LeGrand’s future,” Hobbs said. “I will be a regular here.”
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Patrick Lanni can be reached at [email protected].