Innovation is Alive in Arlington
Picture it: You walk into your favorite coffee shop. You order your drink and hand your money to the Barista. Then, without stopping to wash his hands, he starts to prepare your cup of coffee. Before handing you the finished order, he reaches over to the lids and presses one onto your beverage with that same unwashed hand. As you lift the cup to your lips, savor the moment, and take that first sip, you realize something—that guy didn’t wash his hands!
Consumers are becoming much more wary about what they put into their bodies. This isn’t just the movement of organic foods and non-GMOs—they’re also seeking a new precedent for cleanliness and sanitation. Anyone who suffered a case of food poisoning can attest to the importance of this awareness. Measures must be taken to minimize exposure to skin/soil-dwelling bacteria, mold, and pathogens, including: salmonella, listeria, e.coli, toxoplasma, and norovirus.
If necessity is the mother of all invention, then it was the necessity of a ‘germ-free cup of coffee’ that inspired John Antignane, of Arlington, TN, Army veteran and self-proclaimed “frustrated inventor”, to design the LidGrabber™. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans is made sick from contaminated food each year. But Antignane and his business partner are hoping to help change that.
Antignane’s epiphany came several years ago, when he walked into a coffee shop and felt that “there has got to be a better way to put (coffee) lids on”. This got him thinking. As all good inventors do, he began researching. One major restaurant chain had a device that could help; however, the employees weren’t using it. Drawing from inspiration, Antignane took to his garage and created his prototype. It was Thomas A. Edison who said, “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” This might very well describe Antignane’s first prototype. Essentially it was a cut-down cup with half a rubber ball on top, all held together with electrical tape. He presented this prototype to a major coffee chain and though they loved it, it was initially dismissed because it was made of porous materials and would therefore harbor germs. Following this setback, Antignane put his invention aside for a while, but not before applying for and receiving a patent.
After some time, Antignane went back to the drawing board and created a second version, which garnered market approval. Featured on Channel 24 Local Memphis News for his ingenuity, Antignane was referred to Bob Wilson at H.Saga International/Port-Alliance Logistics, also of Arlington, to discuss manufacturing. Bob was making cups for MGM at the time, and when he presented his idea, Bob said, “I’ll make them for you!” Wilson later shared, “I love working with entrepreneurs who have a great idea and it was a pleasure helping to support Antignane through the process, from concept to product.” Continuing to get the word out about his device, Antignane traveled to Chicago to attend the National Restaurant Association Convention, where he showcased his invention. When he returned home, he had an email from Java Time, a coffee chain in Saudi Arabia. They were highly interested in his product, and Antignane’s LidGrabber™ is now a routine sanitary device in 53 stores of the Saudi coffee shop chain.
But Antignane is only half of the founding duo that makes up LidGrabber™. Paul Burns, owner and operator of The Little Studio on the Square, in Arlington, TN, learned of Antignane’s invention. Burns agreed that the device could fill a much-needed void in the beverage service industry. Having graduated from Louisiana Tech University with an inherent interest in consumer behaviour and psychology, Burns was the perfect partner for Antignane. “John has a contagious love for Arlington,” shared Burns. “The first time I ever saw John, he was picking up trash for no other reason than he loved his town and took pride in its appearance.” The LidGrabber™ has stayed local to West Tennessee through every stage of the development process, but Founder and Co-Founder are ready to take their concept nationally! With the launch of TheLidGrabber.com, any coffee shop wanting to pass along a cleaner cup of coffee just needs to fill out the contact form online and Antignane and Burns will take it from there! No need to worry about getting the right fit, they’ll send out LidGrabbers™ that fit the existing lids of the retailers. But it’s not just about a reduction in germs, it’s also about ensuring safety. By using the LidGrabbers™, cafés can mitigate their risks of accidental burns by firmly attaching the lid to every piping-hot cup of coffee.
Antignane and Burns want their customers and clients to have fresh, clean LidGrabbers™ on a regular basis without having to think about it. So, they’re including a subscription model on their site. For only $40 a year, you can ensure you’re not serving your customers coffee with a side of e-coli. Alternatively, coffee shops can purchase a single set of LidGrabbers™ (4) at the one-off price of $25/set. And don’t just throw out your older LidGrabbers™—remember, John takes pride in the environment, so he made sure they were recyclable.
Currently, LidGrabbers™ can be found at: The Dapper Doughnut in Wolfchase, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Crave Coffee Bar & Bistro, Cafe Xpresso of Newtown, CT, and of course numerous Java Time locations throughout Saudi Arabia. Several food trucks are using them as well. LidGrabber™ is on its way to becoming a staple in your favorite coffee shop chains, but why would you want to be sure your barista is using this device? Antignane states, “There’s no reason someone should accept a to-go cup of coffee from a barista without them using a LidGrabber™.” Demand better—insist on the LidGrabber™!
When asked what was next for the duo, Burns said he will be hitting the road to spread the word outside the local region—to places like Austin, TX and Portland, OR. They’re also in talks with a major US coffee chain (that also has franchises abroad) to see about implementing the use of their product in all locations. Antignane is married to his wife Diane (also part owner in the business) and has three adult children; Rebecca, Melissa, and Tim, plus five grandchildren. Burns and his wife Ashley are parents to two girls; Jessie B (5) and Abigail (3).