The owners of the Coffee Mess and the Lil Donut Factory, 4543 Scioto Darby Road just outside Hilliard’s city limits, recently opened a new business on the Ohio State University campus in Columbus, just east of Upper Arlington.
Tim Hofmann, owner of the Coffee Mess, and Jordan Smith, owner of the Lil Donut Factory, opened the Stack in June at 262 W. Lane Ave.
Similar to the two businesses on the doorstep of Hilliard in the Columbus strip center between Leap and Walcutt roads, the Stack is within a stone’s throw of Ohio Stadium and will carry many of the same products – but with some differences, Hofmann said.
Jacob Rasmussen, whom Hofmann hired two years ago to work at the Coffee Mess, is the general manager of the Stack.
“When I hired him, I knew Jacob had the potential to help us grow our business,” Hofmann said. “When we had an opportunity to open on campus, we jumped at it.”
The Stack is one of several businesses in a new building that was constructed after two residential units were demolished adjacent to the Varsity Club Restaurant & Bar, 278 W. Lane Ave., Hofmann said.
“(Rasmussen) is taking (the Stack) in a neat direction for us. ... He has his finger on the pulse of the ‘20-somethings’ (on campus),” Hofmann said.
He said some of the coffee blends and pastry selections would be aligned with the tastes of the customers there.
“I want to challenge the preconceived notions of what a coffee should be,” Rasmussen said.
To that end, one of the items on the menu when the Stack opened, but which recently rotated off the seasonal menu, was a frozen banana-on-a-stick iced latte, he said.
“Some places (struggle in identifying) as a coffee shop that sells doughnuts or as a doughnut shop that sells coffee,” Rasmussen said.
But he thinks the Stack has achieved a 50-50 balance, he said.
The goal of the Stack is to provide delicious coffee while having some fun with the concept, rather than taking “a serious and pretentious” route, Rasmussen said.
Some of the adventurous blends at the Stack occasionally might be tried out at the Coffee Mess or the Public Perk, another business that Hofmann, Smith and Nate and Sharon Grenier, the owners of Coffee Connections of Hilliard, 4004 Main St., operate inside the Hilliard branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, 4500 Hickory Chase Way.
The Public Perk opened at the same time as the new library branch in June 2018.
The name of the latest business, the Stack, is derived from an observation Smith made about the number of customers carrying “a stack” of doughnut boxes and coffee trays as they departed from the Coffee Mess and Lil Donut Factory.
The Lil Donut Factory is celebrating its 10th anniversary; the Coffee Mess opened five years ago inside the Lil Donut Factory.