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Clutch Coffee opens in South Carolina ahead of US expansion

The US drive-thru chain has opened its sixth outlet and first outside of its home state as it kickstarts a regional expansion drive to reach 50 stores within three years

Clutch Coffee, Columbia, South Carolina | Photo credit: Clutch Coffee


North Carolina-based drive-thru coffee chain Clutch Coffee has opened its first store in South Carolina. 

Clutch Coffee, which has five stores in North Carolina, said its new outlet in Columbia is the first to be constructed from scratch rather than renovating a previous site. 

Clutch Coffee opened its first store in 2018 after refurbishing a former Human Bean outlet.

In November 2022 the coffee chain partnered with commercial real estate company EIG14T and announced plans to open 50 drive-thru stores across the southeast of the US by 2026. 

A second South Carolina store is set to open in Rock Hill later this year. 

“We chose Columbia based on how incredible a community it truly is. The people and culture are a great fit with the positive energy that we serve at Clutch. Columbia is rapidly growing, and we are excited to be an integral part of helping elevate the entire region. We love to create community-conscious experiences that being people together,” Clutch Coffee CEO Darren Spicer told local media. 

Although already established before Covid-19, drive-thru increased in popularity during the pandemic as US operators sought to continue trading amid social distancing restrictions. 

World Coffee Portal data shows 54% of US consumers favoured drive-thru over entering a coffee shop in 2022, albeit less than the 63% who agreed with the statement during the height of the pandemic in 2020. 

The country’s leading drive-thru focused coffee chains, Dutch Bros and Scooter’s Coffee, have both reported strong outlet and revenue growth over the last 12 months, highlighting the commercial opportunities of the format. 

In December 2022, Nebraska-based Scooter’s Coffee opened its 500th outlet while in January 2023 Oregon-based Dutch Bros reported opening 133 new stores in 2022 to reach 671 outlets nationwide. 

Both companies plan to reach 800 stores by the end of 2023 and 1,000 across the US by 2025. 

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