Biggby Coffee co-founder, MSU business graduate retires
Even as a supervisor at a Flap Jack Restaurant, Bob Fish saw Mary Roszel’s “extraordinary energy” and attention to detail right after he hired her.
Shortly after they met, the two MSU students founded and opened up their first Biggby Coffee shop, 270 W. Grand River Ave., then named Beaner’s.
Seventeen years after co-founding the company, Roszel announced she plans to retire from the coffee chain that now has 156 locations spread across seven states.
Her journey started as a student at MSU, and she has turned into one of the most successful alumni of the School of Hospitality Business.
Last year, the company was named the fastest-growing coffee retail chain in the U.S. by CNBC.
“Getting my degree gave me confidence I can do something,” Roszel said.
Fish said he noticed the maturity Roszel carried with her as a student, but he also saw she was significantly older than most students sitting around her.
Roszel worked for the Michigan Supreme Court for 13 years and raised her two children as a single parent before enrolling at MSU for her bachelor’s degree in hospitality business.
Ronald Cichy, director and professor in the School of Hospitality Business, remembered Roszel sitting in his food safety class in 1986.
“She was always very bright and curious,” Cichy said. “It didn’t surprise me that she started her own successful business.”
Cichy also said Roszel is a role model to hospitality business students, and she gives back by helping out as a mentor and a member of the entrepreneurial council.
“Every time we ask Mary something, she never says no” Cichy said. “She is always focused on building other people.”
Roszel’s impact on the university will be recognized Nov. 10, when she will be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a pace setter during the school’s annual Celebration of Leadership during the International Hotel/Motel & Restaurant Show.
The event will be held in New York City at The Waldorf-Astoria in front of 250 friends of Roszel and the School of Hospitality Business, including 60 current students.
Fewer than .05 percent of all MSU graduates have been inducted into the Hall of Fame; the display stands on the garden level of Kellogg Center.
Roszel credits customer service as the number-one reason Biggby Coffee has become what it is today.
Biggby Coffee barista and human biology junior Neelma Rao said customer service is crucial to Biggby Coffee.
“Customer service is really important … we always have to make sure the order is on time and the customers are happy,” Rao said.
Fish said he will miss having Roszel and the “can-do” attitude she brought to Biggby Coffee. He also said replacing her will be no easy task.
“Biggby Coffee isn’t the same company it was back then; at one time she wore a lot of hats doing a lot of jobs,” Fish said. “It’s not easy to replace her, and it takes many people to do the one job she did.”