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Maine-based Aroma Joe's expands rapidly, set to surpass 100 locations

Despite record inflation, the pandemic, and a worker shortage, Aroma Joe's is opening its popular coffee shops faster than ever.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — Even in the middle of the day, people were lined up outside the new blue-and-white shack on Saco Street in Scarborough, looking to order up their favorite Aroma Joe's drink.

The location is the South Portland-based company's latest to open up shop.

"Positivity, it's what keeps us going," franchise owner Maryna Shuliakouskaya said. 

She opened the location in June adding to a total of five locations under her belt as a franchisee.

Shuliakouskaya came to Maine from Eastern Europe in 2007 but never thought she would make it her home or find the success she did. 

"There was no plan for me to stay here in the United States," she said. "I don't think you ever expect anything. You have to take a risk. You have to take a chance."

That risk-turned-American-dream is a small part of a much larger expansion for Aroma Joe's.

The company was founded by four Maine cousins with a small drive-thru in Rochester, New Hampshire, back in 2000. Now more than two decades later, the company is nearing 100 franchise locations all over the region, including locations as far away as Florida. 

"It's not about the numbers. It's keeping it organic and keeping it unique," Aroma Joe's Chief Operating Officer Dave Tucci told NEWS CENTER Maine.

Tucci said between now and the end of the year, they are expecting to open up at least 20 more locations. 

It is an impressive feat, considering we are on the heels of a pandemic, while also facing record inflation and a shortage of workers. 

According to Tucci, the company never closed its locations over the past two years, like some major chains were forced to do. Leadership worked with owners to adapt and even thrive with some new customers, and they have yet to pump the brakes.

Part of what enabled the growth, Tucci said, is in large part because of the franchise model, which allows small business owners to have the support of a larger company.

"It's all about partnering with the right people that can carry the brand forward," Tucci said. "It's personal. It's passion. It's caring. And that feeling you get when you just know it's right."

One of those people was Shuliakouskaya. She said what makes her coffee shops stand out is simple: They care.

From every cup of coffee, Rush energy drink, or salted pretzel, Shuliakouskaya said she is focused on every detail. 

She hopes that sense of pride carries over to her dozens of employees and, more importantly, the communities they serve. 

"I honestly believe that whatever you do, you have to take pride in it," Shuliakouskaya said.

The Scarborough location is holding a grand opening this week with a number of scheduled events. 

As for the continue growth of the company, Tucci said once they reached 100, they will keep going, to open up shops all across the East Coast. 

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