Rutgers football legend Eric LeGrand opens namesake coffee house

Eric LeGrand is thought for grinding.

Since the previous Rutgers soccer participant was paralyzed from the neck down throughout a recreation in opposition to Army at Metlife in 2010, he’s turn into synonymous along with his laborious work, perseverance and cussed optimism in opposition to all odds.

But the inspiring New Jersey native is including a extra literal that means to the phrase grind — with espresso beans.

On Saturday, the 31-year-old is opening his namesake espresso home in Woodbridge, NJ, with a “LeGrand opening” that’s been practically two years within the making.

“Coffee is something that you can bring people together with. Eighty five percent of the world drinks it,” LeGrand instructed The Post. The former defensive deal with who’s a motivational speaker, broadcaster and philanthropist behind Team LeGrand had been percolating on opening a enterprise. And in the course of the divisive early days of the pandemic, his thoughts turned to the caffeinated beverage due to its unifying nature.

LeGrand who was paralyzed in a 2010 game is blazing a new path in the coffee world
LeGrand, who was paralyzed in a 2010 recreation, is blazing a brand new path within the espresso world.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

“The idea came at a time when the country was at each other’s throats and I was thinking how can I put my brand on something that helps people. People look to me for inspiration and motivation. And over a cup of coffee, there are so many things that happen. Good things that happen.” 

But whereas the social idea of the drink resonated with him, he’d by no means truly tried the stuff. That modified in August 2020, when he took his first sip: a easy cup of scorching black espresso.

LeGrand behind the counter which was made extra wide so he can maneuver around
LeGrand behind the counter, which was made additional large so he can maneuver round.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

“Tell you what, it changed my life. I said, ‘I am missing out on some good stuff.’ Ever since then, it’s been a journey,” stated LeGrand who now begins his day with an iced latte.

He known as the mayor of Woodbridge about his proposal, and three hours later he put LeGrand on the telephone with city’s enterprise honchos.

“We have Starbucks and Dunkin but there’s no mom and pop coffee shop in Woodbridge. The people here always supported me, so this is something I wanted to do. They put their trust in me and know when I go after something, I am really going to put my full effort into it,” stated LeGrand who took on an area inside a brand new residential improvement on Green Street steps from the prepare station.

The store was wired by google so LeGrand is able to use voice prompts and a phone to manage different aspects of the shop
The retailer was wired by Google so LeGrand is ready to use voice prompts and a telephone to handle completely different facets of the store.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

He then employed Bellissimo espresso consultants out of Portland and immersed himself within the trade and the product. Last yr LeGrand Coffee House launched as a web-based enterprise, promoting beans to prospects in all 50 states, whereas they labored on the brick and mortar location.

LeGrand, who’s in an influence wheelchair, designed the area to accommodate others in chairs or with particular wants: The doorways are wider, the bogs are bigger and there are high-top tables prospects in chairs can match underneath.

“And behind the counter, it’s big enough so I can maneuver back and forth and not bump into things,” he added. It’s additionally been wired by Google, in order that LeGrand can management the temperature, lights, music and different enterprise capabilities along with his voice.

“I wish more people would think about [accessibility]. A lot of times, it’s out of sight out of mind. When you’re living in this world every single day, it’s always on your mind. And the people who are closest to me, they always think about it. Everywhere they go they say, ‘Eric wouldn’t be able to get around here.’ I am trying to raise awareness and attention to the things that need to be talked about.”

The outside of the new coffee house in  Woodbridge, NJ
The outdoors of the brand new espresso home in Woodbridge, NJ.
Stephen Yang for NY Post

When it opens its doorways, it can serve pastries and monkey bread from Balthazar — and in a nod to his alma mater, a specialty drink known as the Scarlett Knight which is a mocha espresso with raspberry and chocolate syrup.

“It’s been a hit so far,” he stated of early tastings with family and friends.

LeGrand’s framed Rutgers soccer jersey hangs on the wall outdoors of his workplace on the cafe. It was a present from head coach Greg Schiano, with whom he shares a particular bond. “Coach had it framed and everything. He said, ‘This is my gift to the shop.’”

He’s spent the final week placing the ultimate touches and turning many keen early birds away.

“People keep coming in because they think we’re open. They’re so enthusiastic. It’s really exciting and goes to show you, if you do good in the world, it will come back your way,” stated LeGrand, who desires to make this a New Jersey vacation spot and a possible flagship for extra areas.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano leaned over LeGrand after he was taken off the field
Rutgers coach Greg Schiano leaned over LeGrand after he was taken off the sector.

But past the neighborhood he’s constructing, LeGrand — who can be studying how you can converse Spanish — hopes his enterprise endeavor serves for instance to others that something is feasible.

“I can’t even lift my hand to put a cup of coffee to my mouth, but here I am with a full business. There is no reason for me to be negative and I want to share that with other people,” he stated including, “Focus on the things you have, and if there is something you really want, you work your butt off to get it.”

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