MONMOUTH — Happiness in a cup.
That was Leigh Anne MacCarthy’s vision of what the culture could be at Bugles for employees and customers alike when she first opened the little red coffee stand on Highway 99w in Monmouth.
Three years later, her business is tripling in volume.
“It has exceeded what we thought it could do,” MacCarthy said.
Bugles opened March 1, 2015. It is common to see a line of cars forming at each side of the stand each day. Most are regulars; some are new and have never visited before. Whatever your status in that line, MacCarthy and her employees make sure to give each customer a positive experience.
“Leigh Anne always prioritizes people, and she’ll go the extra mile or two or three to make sure everyone is happy and taken care of,” Jirae Thom, who has worked at Bugles for two years, said. “She has created a gem at Bugles, where quality and kindness are top priorities. Her love of life and people has carried over to inspire all of us at bugles.”
The customers feel that; it’s why they keep coming back.
Nicole Rinasz, a recurring customer, knows that when she visits, the baristas will give her an experience that is genuine.
“The customer service is always spectacular and the baristas always help me pick out the perfect drink to pick me up for the day,” Rinasz said.
The genuine atmosphere inside Bugles comes from MacCarthy’s belief in creating a positive work environment for her employees.
“I truly believe that a happy employee makes a happy customer,” she said. “If you focus on your employees, they will provide the atmosphere you want your customer to have.”
She’s worked hard at keeping her employees happy and it shows.
“If you focus on your employees, they will provide the atmosphere you want your customer to have.”
Leigh Anne MacCarthy
“Leigh is without a doubt the best boss,” said Bailey Heide, who’s been working for Bugles since it opened. “She gives off so much positivity; it’s contagious so it makes us want to do the same thing. I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”
While many businesses are laser-focused on the product, MacCarthy’s priority lies in making sure the Bugles culture is built on a strong foundation — which starts with the people she hires.
“A good product is easy: you do research, you find it, you pay a lot of money for it,” MacCarthy said. “A culture is something built over time. My philosophy is, come from a place of love and try to be as understanding as possible. I feel like having that emphasis for the employees has bred them to treat the customers and each other that way.”
Owning a coffee shop wasn’t originally in the plans for MacCarthy.
“I went to (college) in La Grande, and I worked for a girl who started her own coffee shop, and I watched it just become really successful. It inspired me, like, heck if she can do it, why can’t I? And at the time I felt like I should be close to home, my family. So, on a wild hair, I wrote Brooks and Terry’s to see if they’d ever be interested in selling.”
In the beginning, MacCarthy worked tirelessly to make sure her stand was going to be successful, even working 30 days in a row at one point. But through the ups and downs of those first few months, she never had a second guess about what she was doing.
“I just knew it was going to work out,” she said. “I never had doubts. I knew we could make it work. The first few years are very challenging because you have so much responsibility, and we’ve kept growing and we’re really, really busy. There are so many little things that can be overwhelming, and it’s the challenge of keeping it all organized,” MacCarthy said.
“As a small business owner, you wear all the hats,” she added.
Her passion for life overall is evident not only in the success of her small business, but in her personal life as well, where she is a nationally-ranked Obstacle Course Racer.
The first race she attempted last year, she nabbed sixth place.
“I’m competitive,” she said, and became insatiable after that first taste of a race. Soon, she hired a coach, and when she isn’t working, she’s training.
Her dedication reaches past the sport itself and reveals a person who is successful and willing to put in the hard work. It’s how Bugles came to fruition.
But the credit goes to my employees, MacCarthy said. “It is what it is because of the people that work there.”
Bugles is open weekdays 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The stand is located on Highway 99 South, across from the Bi-Mart parking lot, and carries drinks from your typical latte to specialty drinks created by the baristas each month.