Hope grad opens coffee bar in Haworth Hotel after $7.5M makeover

With a huge smile on his face and a delicious coffee in his hand, Mark Dykema is enjoying every minute of his visit to the newly renovated Haworth Hotel.
That’s because his fifth Biggby Coffee store, located in the lobby of the Hope College hotel, looks fabulous. The downtown Holland cafe is open, modern, playful, and bright. The hotel has undergone a $7.5 million transformation by acclaimed international architect Patricia Urquiola that gives the space a modern European look. 
It feels fabulous, too. The colorful furniture, modern artwork, and the grand spiral staircase provide a “good vibes only” experience in real life for customers.
Dykema is at ease on this Monday morning, talking with customers at their tables, joking with his Biggby Coffee team, and greeting the Hope College staff members who walk by. 
These are the moments he signed up for when he opened his first Biggby Coffee store in Holland back in September 2012.
Four locations later — and a few more in the works — Dykema remains thankful the primary focus of his business is treating people right. The company’s values are what attracted him to Biggby Coffee in the first place.
“We decided Biggby was the best fit culturally for me,” Dykema says. “Be happy, have fun, make friends, love people, and drink great coffee ... It fit really well.”
Biggby beginnings

Dykema, a 2007 Hope College business graduate, says he and his parents ran hobby businesses through the years, but nothing very serious.
Eventually, they began exploring the idea of buying a franchise business together. After plenty of research into company values, his family signed their first franchise agreement with Biggby Coffee in 2012. The coffee company started in East Lansing in 1995 and has grown to more than 240 stores in 13 states, according to their website.
His parents, who are both bookkeepers for local companies, wanted to see how the business did and grow slowly. Dykema, on the other hand, envisioned a bigger splash.
“I was thinking more of an empire, of sorts; my parents were thinking, ‘Let's see if this one works,’” he says.
Their first Biggby Coffee location is at Waverly Road and Chicago Drive in Holland Township. Dykema says he was aware others were eyeing the Holland market for another Biggby so he convinced his parents to sign a second franchise agreement quickly.
His family hasn’t looked back since. 
They have averaged a new location every two years or so, spanning the north and south sides of Holland, plus Zeeland, Dykema says. Their sixth location is in the works in Allegan, and a seventh location is in the planning stages. 
“I have always thought we could probably get 10 of them,” he says. “They all seem to be working.”
Haworth Hotel opportunity
A number of years ago, an experienced manager at Dykema’s second Biggby location was offered a job at Hope College. 
Derek Emerson, in the college’s events and conference office, called him for a reference and mentioned they needed his employee right away. Dykema says the situation put him in a bind, but he figured out a solution for a quick transition.
Fast forward to about three years ago, and he received a text from his former employee saying, “My boss wants to talk with you.”
Dykema says he is always open to a conversation, so he accepted.
Turns out, Hope College was remodeling the Haworth Hotel on its campus, removing the continental breakfast option and replacing it with a coffee shop. Dykema says Emerson wanted an independently run, name brand store, and if the owner happened to be a Hope graduate, even better.  
Talk about a fit.
The flexibility and understanding Dykema had shown years earlier had left an impression. 
“‘I need someone who knows what they are doing to run it,’” Dykema remembers Emerson saying. “‘You did me a solid by helping me get an employee really fast.’”
After a long design process and many committee approvals, the hotel and Dykema’s coffee shop opened around mid-June. It’s expected to foster interactions between Hope College staff and students, community members, and Haworth guests, according to a release.
“You don’t walk in and say, ‘Oh this is a Biggby Coffee’ at all. It’s a beautiful, beautiful location,” Dykema says. “I am really excited for when the school year kicks off this year.”

Read more articles by Jeremy Gonsior.