It all started with a spur-of-the-moment idea late one night in Brisbane.

In 1989, founding directors Emmanuel Kokoris and Emmanuel Drivas were out searching for a late night cup of coffee - and not just any coffee, an Excellent Coffee. After an unsuccessful journey and hours of chatting, the pair planned a new business venture: The Coffee Club.

Their idea was to create more than just a place where people could meet for coffee; it was to provide a relaxed meeting place that is casual yet sophisticated, stylish yet affordable. In short, their plan was to meet an untapped need in the Australian hospitality market.

With the help of a new director in 1990, the flamboyant and outrageous John Lazarou, awareness of The Coffee Club not only grew exponentially, but became a much-loved brand focused on not only providing a great place to meet, but a brand that contributes to and involves the Australian community year after year.

Together, the three passionate directors have driven The Coffee Club to all-time highs, with the company now sitting at over 350 stores strong in five different countries and growing.

Property tycoon & silent achiever

Emmanuel Drivas, an original founder of The Coffee Club back in 1989, has been associated with the retail hospitality industry for almost 40 years through owning and managing successful family businesses. These businesses have included cafes, takeaways and fruit markets in the suburbs and the CBD of Brisbane. Furthermore, Drivas has acquired an investment property portfolio that includes retail centres, commercial and residential property.

Drivas is the Chairman of The Coffee Club Franchising Group Pty Ltd and is currently involved in day to day leadership as Director, with a special interest and talent in the area of property.

In 1994, Drivas was awarded the National Australia Bank's Ethnic Business Award Queensland in the non-manufacturing category and, in 2000, the Centenary Medal for services to business.

In his personal life, Drivas is heavily involved in community and charity initiatives, supporting many groups both financially and with devoted presence. Drivas has held many board seats for community groups and local sporting teams including the 'Greek Community of St George' and 'Olympic United Soccer Club'.

Drivas' peers describe him as a man of true entrepreneurial integrity inspired by a heart of gold and fierce motivations. He keeps himself firmly planted in the background but remains to be an apparent player in the success of The Coffee Club.

How do you take your coffee?
Double shot latte on trim (because it helps the coffee flavour remain strong) with no sugar. From noon onwards, I move onto the short black.

Caught out having said:
"Think about the wasn't too hard for them to throw together a few pyramids."

What is your favourite meal on The Coffee Club menu?
This one is easy - The Coffee Club's Club Steak Sandwich on Turkish bread, and it has to be with chips (I love the chips!). We make the Club Steak Sandwich in our all our stores, but when I'm visiting a Cafe Bar Restaurant in particular, I'll go for the Deluxe Steak Sandwich which includes egg...with chips of course.


Operations mogul & unswerving pragmatist

Emmanuel Kokoris, an original founder of The Coffee Club back in 1989, has had a long association with the retail hospitality industry for almost 40 years having owned many small businesses in Brisbane, some of which were co-owned by co-founder of The Coffee Club Emmanuel Drivas. Furthermore, Kokoris has had experience in the franchise industry as a franchisee for Big Rooster in Queensland.

In 1988, Kokoris and Drivas set up Lectmont Pty Ltd (now The Coffee Club Franchising Company Pty Ltd). In 1989, Lectmont Pty Ltd established The Coffee Club's first store at Eagle Street Pier, Brisbane, which has now progressed to a franchise of more than 350 stores.

Kokoris is currently involved in day to day leadership of The Coffee Club as Director, with a special interest and gift in the area of operations.

In his personal life, Kokoris has held a number of committee member seats in Hellenic community groups in Brisbane. His selfless endeavour to improve the lives of sick children in Australia has led to The Coffee Club Changing Children's Lives initiative which raises much needed funds for Children's Hospital Foundations Australia (CHFA) on going.

Kokoris' peers describe him as a man of intellect, knowledge and creativity who seems to make practical sense every time he speaks. A perpetual realist, Kokoris aggressively seeks absolute solutions to any challenge and never leaves an opportunity waiting. Many describe him as inspirational in his pursuit for best practice operations. He's also well-known as the 'Director of Golf' amongst colleagues, friends, and himself!

How do you take your coffee?
Short black with cream on the side.

Caught "out" having said (after every sentence):
"...and that's the end of the story."

What is your favourite meal on The Coffee Club menu?
I'd have to say a Chef's Choice that I had at The Coffee Club West End in December 2007. It was called 'Thai Marinated Chicken with Coriander' - supple chicken breast marinated in a sauce designed by their Chef, served with fresh couscous and coriander. There is a lot of Good Food on our standard menu in all stores, but when I visit a CBR (Cafe Bar Restaurant), I have to try one of the Chef's creations. They are ever-changing and delicious...and that's the end of the story!


Public Relations guru, networking magnate & persistent doer

John Lazarou is well known throughout Brisbane as a public figure with a passion for publicity and public relations. This flair has helped to establish The Coffee Club brand as we know it today.

While Lazarou's trade is hairdressing, he has worked most of his life in retail hospitality, including some of Brisbane's best known Restaurants. In 1991, Lazarou operated The Coffee Club at Brookside Shopping Centre under a franchise agreement and later that year was invited to become a Director of The Coffee Club Group.

Lazarou is currently involved in day to day leadership of The Coffee Club as a Director, with a special interest in the marketing of the business. Lazarou provides valuable publicity and public relations work for the Group - a talent that the 'Emmanuel's' openly welcomed into the business. Lazarou is often found moving about the media and entertainment circuit, enjoying the relationships that his friendly and engaging personality has brought him.

Lazarou's peers have an interesting opinion of their most flamboyant Director: "He drives us insane with his far-fetched and seemingly unachievable ideas. Somehow though, he manages to motivate the masses, get himself involved, and make it happen over and above all initial expectation. Luckily for us, we're in the business of Excellent Coffee, and we've learnt to drink it strong!"

How do you take your coffee?
I normally have a double short black at home before I leave for work. This is my morning booster and kicks in within minutes! Once I am at work I'll have a flat white made on trim followed by one litre of water. After dinner (at home), I like to sit and enjoy a long black and a cigar!

Caught out having said:
"Give me one hour of your time and we'll end up being the best of friends."

What is your favourite meal on The Coffee Club menu?
The eggs benedict is definitely one of my favourite meals; it's also one of our most popular breakfast items and I'm sure I know why - the secret is our hollandaise sauce. Its smooth and velvet-cream texture is absolutely delicious and is the perfect accompaniment to the light and fluffy poached eggs. I usually ask for sauteed spinach and mushrooms as an extra and I don't limit myself to ordering this meal just at breakfast time - I'll order it at lunch and dinner too! Try it for yourself ... you'll see what I mean!

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