Meeting over a cup of coffee is difficult when one is halfway across the world.

So in 2004, Rita Metcalf called her son Jason to propose an idea.

"What do you think about getting into the coffee business," Rita asked Jason, who was living in Italy while his wife, Nancy, a former Husker volleyball player, trained for the Olympics.

Rita was referring to Scooter's Coffee, the Nebraska-based coffee chain. The company -- which began franchising in 2001 -- was looking for more franchisees and new locations. 

It was an intriguing offer for Jason, who had plans to attend chiropractic school. 

His mother had experience in running a business -- she had owned hair salons and dry cleaning services. And the Scooter's proposition wasn't completely out of the blue -- she'd expressed a desire to enter the coffee business before.

"She had the acumen and experience." Jason Metcalf said. "I didn't know anything about business, but she said the best education I was going to get was to just do it."

After Rita met with Scooter's Coffee executives and tested the company's product, a deal was struck. Jason was willing to go out on a limb. 

In 2005, the mother-and-son pair became business partners as co-franchisees of their first Scooter's location inside Lincoln's Gold Building at 10th and O streets.

Two months later, they had another location at 8th and P streets.

Now, more than 10 years after opening their first coffee shop, the pair oversees 14 Scooter's locations in Lincoln, working with managers and regional managers in the stores' day-to-day operations, including billing and budgeting.

While Jason admitted balancing a personal and professional relationship with his mother can be tricky, he said their partnership and emphasis on customer service has had an impact on the business.

"The relationship that mom and I have has trickled down into our management and employees," Jason said. "It's a culture of families taking care of each other."

For Rita, the venture was the fulfillment of a dream of getting into the coffee business.

Scooter's just happened to be the perfect gateway, she said, after a barista told her the company was looking to expand. 

"I like what the coffee business represents," she said. "It's relationships. It's people. People go to coffee shops to talk and meet others."

Scooter's Coffee got its start in 1998 in Bellevue. The company spread to 13 states after it began franchising in 2001. 

Rita Metcalf believes the business partnership she formed with her son brought them closer.

"I love it," she said. "We never let money or anything get in the way of the relationship." 

It's a relationship that Jason Metcalf plans to celebrate on Mother's Day. Despite their close work relationship, celebrations will be laid back, he explained.

Which means no Mother's Day bonus for his mother and business partner.

"Maybe a mimosa," he said, laughing. 

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or zhammack@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @zach_hammack.


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