Customer service in local family’s blood

The Human Bean at 20055 N. 19th Avenue in Phoenix is run by Kelly Walters of North Phoenix and her future daughter-in-law, Monique Martel. (Walters Boys LLC/Submitted)

Kelly Walters is a self-proclaimed people person.

She’ll talk to anyone, including complete strangers. She knew this trait would come in handy when she and her husband, Jeff, acquired the Human Bean store at 20055 N. 19th Avenue in Phoenix on March 1. The North Peoria couple are awaiting the completion of their Surprise location.

Kelly runs the coffeeshop with she and Jeff’s future daughter-in-law, Monique Martel.

“I love talking,” Kelly said. “I love that connection with people. We need that today more than anything. I enjoy making people happy, getting a smile out of them and giving them what they want. If they want Jimmy John’s or a chocolate mocha, they should walk away happy.”

Customer service is in the North Peoria family’s blood. They also own two Jimmy John’s franchises in Glendale — 7708 W. Bell Road, Suite 105, and 18589 N. 59th Avenue, Suite 106 — and one in Buckeye, 19550 W. Indian School.

They were introduced to Jimmy John’s in their home state of Michigan after a local franchise and a high school baseball team Jeff coached came together to raise funds for the upcoming season.

“Not only was I fan of their sandwiches, but I was impressed with their involvement in the community,” Jeff said. “My sons, Nick and Zack, both have worked for various Jimmy John’s franchises in Michigan and Washington state, as they have gone through high school and college. They both had a great time working at those locations.”

The family moved to Washington state. While living there, they grew to love coffee and came across The Human Bean. Kelly vowed to open an intimate shop where people can “enjoy the coffee, talk and hang out.” It didn’t hurt that their morals aligned with the family’s. So they expanded Walters Boys LLC to include The Human Bean.

“We thought it was a great, catchy name, but to give back to the community is tremendous,” Jeff said. “It goes along with the values that we have — with the Jimmy John’s brand and the family values.

“We get involved with so much in the community, whether it’s high school sports teams or clubs. We recently sponsored a 5K run for women, and we donated proceeds back. We feel it’s our duty to help give back and be the steward of the community. The Human Bean brand is an example of that.”

Last year, Walters Boys LLC donated more than $10,000 to its communities through high school teams, clubs and community programs. Jeff and Nick coach baseball at Verrado High School to “make an impact on young teenagers’ lives and point them in the right direction.”

“A lot of our employees are younger teenagers,” Jeff said. “You want to be a good influence on somebody and mentor them and point them in the right direction.

“There are a lot of kids coming from single-parent families. They don’t have two parents at home. Just helping them get along in life and so forth really is important to us.”

So is food, drink and camaraderie. At The Human Bean, the Granita (frozen espresso) is its signature item. Kelly said she is “blown away” by the number of energy drinks they sell.

“We have over 100 flavors,” she said. “People are creating their own types. People come up with off-the-wall combinations.”

Jeff prefers to add java chips — made with Ghirardelli dark chocolate — and chocolate syrup to his Granita.

“The thing that amazes me is these employees who work for us at the coffeeshop come up with so many combinations and variations and keep things straight,” Jeff said.

“It’s a drive-thru concept, and they’re constantly making these drinks in record time.”

The couple considers their employees family. They honor a barista of the month and give away gift cards to show their appreciation at the coffeeshop and Jimmy John’s.

“We never address them as employees,” she said. “They’re part of our family. We treat them this way. I get too emotionally involved in issues. I probably shouldn’t, but we try helping them as much as we can. We help them with books, for example. We couldn’t do what we do without our extended family. We know that.

“Every day we try to let them know how much we appreciate them, and we care.”