Bethany Clough

A Fresno coffee shop was closing. This couple loved it so much they bought it

Husband and wife Michael Nieves and Belinda Bagwell are the new owners of Yellow Mug Coffee.
Husband and wife Michael Nieves and Belinda Bagwell are the new owners of Yellow Mug Coffee.

Yellow Mug Coffee in north Fresno was supposed to be closed by now.

The coffee shop at Champlain Drive and Perrin Avenue near Save Mart had announced to the world on Facebook in mid-December that it was closing after about two years in business. The Fresno Bee did a story about it.

But it’s still open. What gives?

Michael Nieves is a customer who went to the coffee shop five days a week, usually for an espresso, sometimes an Americano.

One day he was leaving Yellow Mug when he saw the owner coming in. Her head was hanging low and she looked so dejected he thought about giving her a hug. He asked her what’s up.

“’Michael, that’s your last cup of coffee. We’re closing,’” he recalls her saying. “I said, ‘No, you’re not.’”

He said no because he had decided on the spot to buy Yellow Mug and keep it open. And he did. A record three days later, Nieves and wife Belinda Bagwell bought Yellow Mug. It never even closed. The couple officially took over on New Year’s Day.

Nieves is a software developer who runs a site called that hosts restaurant reviews and helps restaurants clean up negative reviews. He knows business marketing and figured he could bring those skills to Yellow Mug.

Bagwell, who has been busy raising their 16-year-old son and 14-year-old twin sons, has a little more time these days to work at the coffee shop now that the kids are older. And, the family lives three minutes away.

The previous owners never told The Bee why they were closing the shop.

Yellow Mug has a following and the new owners are vowing not to mess with what works.

“The coffee is going to be the same. We kept the formulas exact,” Nieves said.

They kept the best baristas, including Sarah Amireh, he said.

A few things have changed. There’s more kid-friendly drinks and snacks now and they switched brands of muffins and coffee cake. Oh, and they brought in a Battleship game. That’s about it so far.

They hope to host more community events. And they’re working on an app where people can order drinks, drive up and have an employee bring the drink out to them.

When the reopening news was announced on Yellow Mug’s Facebook page, customers expressed their happiness in the comments.


Bethany Clough: (559) 441-6431, @BethanyClough

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.