MANSFIELD -- The idea for Dave Strausbaugh and Britni Harp’s newest venture came together slowly, with multiple aspects of their lives playing a part.
The married couple’s mobile coffee shop, Frenchie Roast, reflects their shared entrepreneurial spirit, passion for travel and even their love for their two bulldogs.
“The name is a play on words,” Harp said. “We are obsessed with our two French bulldogs, Orson and Gus. They are everything to us."
Both Strausbaugh and Harp have owned businesses in the past and enjoy the challenge. The idea to open their own coffee shop began percolating two years ago, when they took a cross country road trip and met the owner of a coffee shop in Kansas City.
“It had the coolest vibe. It was always something we thought we would enjoy,” Harp said.
After Strausbaugh lost his job last May, the couple decided to go for it. They started practicing and studying how to make different coffee drinks and purchased a 1983 Shasta travel trailer, which they transformed into a chic coffee shop on wheels.
“It was in great shape for its age. We almost felt bad gutting it, but we had a vision in mind,” Harp said. “We decided on a food truck format for the coffee shop because we love the idea of being able to set up shop virtually wherever and whenever we please without being tied down to a physical location.
"It definitely comes with its own set of obstacles but the freedom it gives is 100% worth it!”
Strausbaugh and some friends remodeled the trailer top to bottom, stripping it down to the frame and adding a new floor, ceiling and walls.
"I always thought you could only get a "coffee house" vibe from sitting in an actual coffee shop, but the Frenchie Roast coffee trailer has shown me otherwise," said Jillian Query, one of the trailer's first customers. "Dave and Britni are great, friendly people and they're always striking up a conversation with their customers as if old friends are catching up with each other."
Frenchie Roast made its debut April 18 in the parking lot of Mid Ohio Hitch & Trailer, serving hot coffee drinks, teas and nitro cold brews. The couple said the day was equal parts exciting and nerve wracking.
“We realized we had a few kinks we needed to work through but it was such a fabulous day. We were overwhelmed with love and gratitude for everyone that came out to support us,” Harp recalled.
The couple had planned to open in March, but pushed the opening back due to social distancing guidelines and the governor’s stay at home order.
“It just didn’t feel right trying to open with such a black cloud hanging over the world. So we kept putting it off,” Harp said. “We finally realized that people were craving activities they could go do while still being safe. So that’s when we decided to just go for it!”
The trailer is currently open most days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It’s daily location can be found on its Facebook and Instagram pages.