I’ve been following the development of Coffee and (____) for quite some time but I never had the chance to make it to the pop-up location in West Village. Friday was the grand reopening and I decided to check it out Sunday morning before meeting Robert. Coffee and (_____) – the blank is the specialty of the day (i.e. scones, pies, tarts, etc.) – is a perfect example of the opportunities available to small business owners in Detroit.
Angela Foster is the shop’s owner and a testament to the things an adventurous, industrious spirit can accomplish. A former travel agent, Angela switched careers several years ago and enrolled in Schoolcraft College’s esteemed pastry program. When she graduated 11 years ago, Detroit didn’t have the opportunity she was looking for to develop her skills, so she moved to Washington D.C. to work at the Ritz Carlton. Accustomed to the coastal waters of Michigan, Angela frequently traveled to Delaware to be close to the ocean. Occasional getaways turned into a permanent move, and she spent a few years running a bakery and inn. A more daring career move happened when she set sail to St. John and operated a charter for two seasons. When she started to feel homesick, Angela returned to Delaware but soon realized “home” was Michigan.
When Angela returned to Detroit in January 2012, it was a very different city and she felt it might finally be a place she could pursue her baking career. The decision to open a coffee shop wasn’t an easy one but with a strong network supporting her she has been able to create a business I know will be a Detroit signature.
It Takes a Village
Detroit faces many challenges but one thing it does really well is promote the talent of local entrepreneurs. I may tweet pleas to get a Target in Detroit but the reality is that the lack of corporate retail and restaurants provides a unique opportunity for small business owners. In addition to an eager consumer base, Detroit has dozens of resources available to develop business plans, locate pop-up and production facilities, and obtain financing. Angela capitalized on the accessibility of these plentiful resources.
Food Lab: The Kitchen Connect program provided Angela with the resources to produce her delicious treats.
Jefferson East Incorporated (JEI): After Coffee and (____) lost its pop-up space to Craft Work, Angela took an extended trip to Europe. While she was away she received a call from JEI inviting her to reopen in the Jefferson-Chalmers district.
American Institute of Architects (AIA): The building JEI suggested wasn’t what Angela had in mind for her shop (i.e. florescent lights, dropped ceilings and hideous carpet), but with the services of students from the University of Detroit Mercy’s Architect and Design program the space was transformed in 2 months for $2,000.
TechTown Detroit: SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunity, Threats) is a business preparation program that helped Angela realize she was ready to become a permanent business. Although the thought of incurring debt was a frightening concept, TechTown prepared her to borrow responsibility to grow her business.
Detroit Development Fund: The Detroit Development Fund provided lending resources to finance an industrial kitchen that will allow Angela to prepare delicious treats on-site.
Coffee and (_____) is on the east Eastside. The 40 minute drive always seemed like a hassle but now it looks like an opportunity. As soon as I entered the shop I was pulled in by the peaceful and welcoming environment. I was reluctant to leave and am eager to go back. The trip is now a mini vacation to a girl from western Wayne county – a chance to get away, relax and recharge. I foresee many weekend mornings reading a book or working on the blog at Coffee and (____).