The manifestation of Anthem Coffee & Tea traces back to a five-year-old girl.
Puyallup residents Janie and Larry Reynolds were easing into life as empty nesters after their son, Bryan, married his junior high school sweetheart and moved to Tacoma, and their daughter went off to college. Their hearts broke after Janie heard the story of a little girl from a co-worker who’d been transferred in and out of 12 foster homes in five years, and it was this news that compelled them to take their first risk.
The Reynolds adopted her and bought into the Forza coffee franchise — with Bryan heading up the daily operations — so they could retire sooner and work closer to home.
“It seemed like the perfect plan, to buy the franchise of a coffee shop, and that would be our ticket,” Bryan Reynolds said. “None of us had ever graduated college. We’d never run a business in our life. We’re just your average Joes. But we are scrappy as a family. We make things happen, and we just go for it. Because we had such a strong mission driving us, there was no looking back.”
Reynold’s prior work history was a patchwork of odds and ends jobs. He’d wanted to be a professional baseball player for the Oakland A’s after playing select baseball growing up, but when that didn’t pan out, he took whatever gig he could to save up for an engagement ring. He cashed checks as a teller at a local bank — where he developed his love for customer service — donned royal blue as a Best Buy employee; and got his first taste, literally, of coffee as a barista at Cutters Point Coffee Co. After he and his wife Alicia got married, they planted Journey Community Church, where he developed his early years of leadership.
His family took ownership of the downtown Puyallup Forza in late 2006, and when he was in his early 20s, he found himself steering the ship.
When their five-year franchise contract was up, the Reynolds family decided to open their own coffee shop. On Halloween 2011, Forza closed, and on Nov. 1, an Anthem Coffee & Tea banner unfurled and opened as a new concept, serving coffee, wine, beer, and bites. The newly-acclaimed risk-takers decided to launch their new business in two locations — one to replace the Puyallup Forza, and another in the heart of Tacoma on Pacific Avenue.
It was brutal, Reynolds said. Business was good, but for the first five or so years, Anthem ran him into the ground.
“I was opening the shops and closing the shops, and I was more of a fire fighter than a business owner,” he said. “I was running around putting out fires around me, and I didn’t have a great plan of attack or a great strategy … I was stuck being a human doing and not a human being.”
Reynolds escaped to the fresh air of Bend, Oregon for a week with his mountain bike, and it was there that he began to sketch out Anthem’s future. He wrote guiding principles that would become the backbone of the business and created its mission statement: Heroic hospitality. It all stemmed back to his parents adopting their first foster child — giving her a last name and a forever home. They were a shining example of heroic hospitality, and that became the foundation of Anthem.
“I used to think: No one can be more hospitable or make drinks better than me,” he said. “Because I’m the owner. I was the one in charge. I had to be the one who did everything the best. There was that performance anxiety, and that’s a myth. No one needs that pressure. Winning to me doesn’t look like wanting to be the best. Winning to me is replicating myself in other people, and helping them unlock their full potential — when other people are better at things than me and I can just champion and applaud them.”
By the end of the summer, Anthem will have six locations — including its newest additions in Point Ruston and Tacoma’s Stadium District — with Bryan heading up a team of 70 employees. Had he not experienced such an intense burnout, he’d still be running around in an apron.
“I’m telling you, every day feels like day one,” he said. “It’s amazing. This feels like a brand-new company every day. I try to instill this in my team as well. If we could wake up every day realizing that every day is a brand-new day to learn from your past failings and apply that to the days moving forward. It changes your life.”
Off the clock, he recharges in his Bonney Lake neighborhood of Tehaleh with his wife and three boys and gets in a round of golf every now and then. Oh, and if you’re wondering what happened to that little girl, she grew up in her new forever home. Janie and Larry ended up fostering eight children and adopted four of them.
Here’s a look at a day in Bryan’s life.
Photos Courtesy Bryan Reynolds
I try to get to Truth Fitness at least three times a week — “try” being the operative word. It’s the hardest part of my day, but I find it’s the best way to manage stress.
Next, I head over to my parents’ place to check on some of the projects going on at their house. My folks are incredibly hard-working people, and they do a lot of the interior design and detailing for our Anthem stores.
Here it is. My first caffeine dose of the day — a nice smooth doppio espresso of our Live Loud Blend, roasted by the good people of Dillanos Coffee Roasters.
Next, I make the rounds at all our locations. Here I am at our store in downtown Tacoma, connected to the Washington State History Museum.
Trevor and Tina are two of our fantastic leaders at the University Place store. I’m thankful for all of their hard work. And an extra shout out regarding Tina’s punny shirt. I got a chuckle out of that one.
Next, I head over to our new Point Ruston location to see how the kitchen team is doing. This store, which opened in July, also is the new location for our bakery and kitchen.
Lunch with my beautiful wife, Alicia. Today we share lettuce wraps at Indo Asian Eatery (we love Thai food), which is just down the street from our Stadium District store.
Next, I stop in at the Puyallup location. Together with my team, we stage a photo for our new #TastyTuesdays weekly marketing events, during which we provide a free coffee, tea, wine, or beer tasting with a food pairing for one hour at one of our locations.
I always check in with my team at Elements Frozen Yogurt, too. We started this business seven years ago, and it’s my favorite dessert spot.
Evening is family time. Tonight, we are riding bikes on the Tehaleh trails in Bonney Lake, not too far from our home. This is my favorite time of day — catching up with my kiddos.