After 30 years working in the aerospace industry, Joe Bales started plotting the next chapter in his life.

“I knew I was getting close to retirement, and I was looking for a business to invest in and keep me active,” Bales said recently. “My daughter suggested a drive-through coffee shop. She said there always seems to be cars at those places.”

Bales said he took his daughter’s advice and started researching franchise opportunities for drive-through coffee shops.

“I got it down to two and picked Ziggi’s Coffee,” he said. “It was a young company out of Longmont, Colorado, and I just felt better about dealing with them. They were more personal.”

It turned out that Bales’ store in Tulsa would be only the fifth franchise and the first outside Colorado. Bales said making the decision to go with Ziggi’s was the easy part.

“Then I had to find a location, get the building up and all of the equipment and supplies,” he said. “I never thought it would take a full year to get open. We finally opened last October.”

When I drove up to the order sign recently, I noticed the drinks were explanatory enough, but the food items — breakfast burritos, scones, bread slices, breakfast sandwiches and cookies — had no descriptions and no prices listed. My conversation over the intercom went something like this:

What kind of breakfast sandwiches do you have?

“We don’t have breakfast sandwiches anymore,” the polite voice on the other end said.

OK, what is in the burritos?

“Potato, eggs and cheese and choice of meat if you want meat.”

What kind of meats do you have?

“Sausage, bacon and chorizo.”

Good. Give me a burrito with no meat and a couple of sausage burritos.

“You want a side of salsa with those?”

Yes, please. What kind of bread slices do you have?

“Banana nut, banana chocolate chip and zucchini nut.”

Thank you, I’ll take a slice of banana nut. How about cookies?

“We have chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and Chocolate Bliss.”

Thanks. Please add a chocolate chip cookie to my order.

I probably would have ordered a scone, too, if I had the presence of mind to continue. The burritos turned out to be $3.59 each, the bread slice $3.02 and the cookie $2.56.

From the beverage list, we chose an Americano coffee ($2.97), a caramel macchiato ($4.02) and Java Chip ($4.81). We also kicked in a 12-ounce blueberry pomegranate smoothie ($4.32).

I later would learn at the interview with Bales that the breakfast sandwich supplier, who was local, went out of business. The remainder of the items are shipped virtually ready to go from Colorado.

“We don’t prepare the items here,” Bales said. “We do have these great turbo, convection-like ovens that heat evenly all the way through, and they even will brown the dough.”

The burritos were full-sized, larger than I expected, and had a good amount of fillings. The salsa, which had a little bite to it, helped up the flavor.

The bread had a nice flavor and texture and perhaps was my favorite item. The cookie was thick and huge, enough for a couple of folks to share.

The drinks stood out more than the food. The Americano had a strong enough flavor. The caramel macchiato, likely a blend of espresso, milk, vanilla syrup and caramel sauce topped with whipped cream; and the Java Chip, a blended mix of ice, milk, coffee, chocolate syrup, chocolate chips and a topping of whipped cream, were sweet and cool on a warm spring day.

On each item, we were asked if we were OK with whole milk and whipped cream. We were.

The smoothie was fresh-tasting and a little sweet. Ziggi’s has a variety of smoothies, Italian sodas, hot spiced cider, hot chocolate, teas and specialty coffees. Ziggi’s has more than 30 flavorings and 15 sugar-free flavorings. It also has a line of Red Bull infused with flavors.

Bales’ sister, Tracy Purvis, is general manager.

“We grew up around here, and we’re happy we could do something in our home community,” Bales said. “It has worked out well.”

Twitter:

@ScottCherryTW

Scott Cherry

918-581-8463

scott.cherry@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @ScottCherryTW

Scene Writer

Scott is in his second tour of duty with the Tulsa World. He was a sports writer during his first stop. Since returning to the World in 1992, he has been the food writer and now restaurant critic and wine columnist. Phone: 918-581-8463