For Roasters & Retailers

Poured into the national spotlight

If you live in or around Haverhill, you’ve probably dropped by or have heard about Battle Grounds Coffee Company on downtown Washington Street.

Now a national audience will learn about Battle Grounds and its owners – Salvatore DeFranco, a former Navy SEAL, and his wife Dana. They will be the featured guests on an upcoming episode of Fox &Friends when the show’s hosts shine a spotlight on this veteran-owned and operated business. The show airs daily from 6 to 9 a.m. on the Fox News Channel.

Since opening their shop in September 2016, the DeFrancos have hosted numerous social events there. In a very short time, their shop has become a meeting place for the community as well as a venue for artists, musicians and other performers to showcase their talents.

Located at 39 Washington St., Battle Grounds served as organizational headquarters for the recent Big Dog show on the Bradford Common presented by local metal artist Dale Rogers.

On Nov. 10, the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps, the Merrimack Valley Chamber of Commerce put on a free networking breakfast at Battle Grounds for veterans, during which the chamber unveiled a new program to connect veterans returning to civilian life with jobs.

Sal DeFranco is serving as spokesperson for the chamber’s new “Veterans Back to Work” program.

Dana DeFranco said a booking agent for Fox and Friends recently contacted her and Sal to ask if they’d like to be on the show, and to send a biography, including how they started their business, how they give back to the community, how their shop has become a meeting place and what separates them from other coffee shops.

Their motto, “Country, Community, and Coffee” is more than a catchy phrase. It’s a formula for success for this small business.

From a television studio in New York City, Sal and Dana hope to explain to a nationwide television audience how they give back to their community in many ways, such as donating to local charities and nonprofit organizations, and donating their time and the use of their coffee shop for functions run by neighborhood organizations and various nonprofit groups.

“To be successful, you have to look at the needs of your community and see what you can do to meet those needs and wants,” Dana DeFranco said. “You have to look at what your business can do to help bridge that gap.”

Dana said she told the booking agent for Fox and Friends that the seed money to start Battle Grounds came from her maternal grandfather, Richard Lussier of Amesbury, who died last year at age 91.

“He watched Fox News all day long,” she said.

Lussier – a Salem, Massachusetts, native – served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was the recipient of the Silver Star, Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.

Dana DeFranco said Lussier suffered a gunshot wound to his left forearm while fighting in Germany.

“He was taken to a hospital in France, but gangrene had set in and his left arm, his dominant arm, had to be amputated below the elbow,” she said. “He was 19 at the time.”

She explained that the day before Lussier was shot, he single-handedly captured 27 Nazi soldiers.

“What’s crazy is that he was out of ammunition and bluffed them into surrendering,” Dana DeFranco said.

During the fall of 2015, Sal and Dana DeFranco were discussing plans to open a coffee shop, and they happened to mention it to Lussier.

“He knew how passionate we were about opening a business and he wanted to see his family succeed, so he offered to help us get our business off the ground,” she said. “If it wasn’t for him, it would have taken us a lot longer to open our business.”

She said Lussier died in August 2016, one month before she and Sal opened their shop, which happened to be the same week they were married.

“My grandfather loved our military theme and how we wanted to promote the importance of service and the need and want to give back,” Dana DeFranco said.

She said she and Sal are looking forward to talking about how a veteran-run business can be a success, and how Sal’s time in the military taught him to be strong-minded and determined. They also hope to discuss plans for opening a second location somewhere in the Merrimack Valley.

“We’re both really passionate and dedicated and failure is not an option for either of us,” she said, adding that she and Sal recently won the First Generation Family Business of the Year award, presented by the Family Business Association of Massachusetts.

Sal and Dana, who are both 31, opened Battle Grounds out of a desire to provide a good, quality cup of specialty coffee like you’ll find in Portland or Boston.

“We import only the top 1 or 2 percent of the world’s coffee harvest … only the best of the best,” Dana said.

In addition to four different varieties of coffee being served at this time, in styles ranging from single-origin coffees to espresso-based drinks to everything in-between, Battle Grounds also serves 18 types of loose-leaf teas, as well as craft beers and wines.

The shop’s food menu features fresh salads with homemade dressing, grilled-to-order breakfast sandwiches throughout the day, homemade soups, seasonal sandwiches, locally baked goods and locally made ice cream.

“We’re thrilled to be invited to be on Fox,” Dana DeFranco said. “This is huge for us and for Haverhill. What’s bigger than being on a nationally syndicated network and being featured?”

By Mike LaBella Staff Writer

© Copyright 2017, The Haverhill Gazette / Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. (CNHI). All Rights Reserved.

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