2018

keys.jpeg

After over 2 years of waiting in September of 2017 I received my keys. We were finally able to get into the building and begin investigating the state of the space. Patiently anticipating this day we spent the previous 3 years trying to plan every step of this process on paper, but things don’t always translate the way you expect.

We spent about 3 months in the space removing rusted and destroyed tin ceilings, tearing down a brick wall to open up the 2 units to create a larger more open space and lastly (at least we thought) we removed lathe and plaster to expose a the brick wall you see today. After a few months of demo and prep we begin laying the ground work for the cafe, We started by insulating the ceiling with a closed cell foam. After completing the insulation we painted the ceiling flat black just before it got to cold to paint.

oldoldold.jpeg

Its now December and our electricians begin installing all of the conduit that will host our electricity. The building hasn’t had electricity for over 20+ years. With the electrical all prepped and ready we now wait for DTE to bring the building a transformer and gas/electric meters. This doesn’t happen for another 3 months. It wasn’t until the end of December that the hvac units arrived, however we were waiting for DTE. With out heat the progress slowed. and then on February 10th I broke my arm.

Progress stopped.

IMG_7056.jpg
wall demo.jpeg

Finally the beginning of March we got heat in the unit and begin progressing through the laundry list of tasks. Still laid up in a sling from the broken arm my friends starting showing up right when I needed them. From rolling joints to sanding/staining the wood floor, priming and painting every surface in the cafe, digging trenches, loading and unloading the trailer 100 times or more, shuffling furniture, building materials, and god only knows what else in, out and around the space. you get the picture. needless to say I would have been lost with out them.

After a surgery adding 8 screws and a plate to my arm, a couple months of being laid up, a little bit of physical therapy, a whole lot of winter depression and more doctors visits than I could have imagined at 30 my mortality was brought to my attention. I had learned a lot about myself, things I never imagined. I in fact have an irregular heartbeat. when life gets pulled out from underneath you your perspective has to change. Adapt or die.

ben.jpeg

It wasn’t until the end of May that I was able to start using my hand again, I finally started to get my strength and dexterity back. Hindered from the injury I still needed these guys to help with so many details. By June we were back on track, working through the details of the build out, navigating the cities inspections and permits, While working with our contractors to complete the plumbing and electrical. July/August/September flew by, Its now Oct and we are scheduling final inspections, putting all of the details together and prepping for the finish.

front.jpeg

Monday Oct 29th 2018 We opened our doors.

In the last 4 years Ive learned a lot, experienced things I could’ve never imagined and made bonds that will last a lifetime. We did it, We got the shop open.

I want to extend a special thank you to some of these dudes.

Physically and Emotionally these individuals were pinnacle in keeping me sane and the ball rolling with this build out. This cafe wouldn’t of happened if it wasn’t for them. Sincerely I love you all and really appreciate everything you’ve done for me.

Thank you, ya Fuckin’ Nerds

Jeremy Morgan, Logan Bourne, Eric Kehoe

Derrick Busman, Mathew Erk, Logan Merry

Henry Lehue, Jake Dwyer, Michael Camilerri

2017

To be a successful business owner, you rely on a little bit of luck. That's what it felt like when I found my small business lawyer. Well, he found me.

In 2016, a man stopped me in a cafe to find out "who I was and what I was doing." Caught off guard I humored him. We had a great conversation and at the end he handed me a business card and said, "You'll need me one day. I'm here for you."

Little did I know this man was my saving grace. Older and wiser, with about 50 years of small business law under his belt, he knew exactly how to handle my separation.

Yeah, the separation. I'd gone from a 50/50 ownership to being 100% owner.

dotting i's crossing t's

dotting i's crossing t's

I hit the pavement looking for investors. Our Motor City Match grant required that we had the financial ability to open our doors, so I went searching. My lawyer also mentored me with this, helping me learn the ropes of negotiation.

A crash course in entrepreneurship, all the while trying to manage a love life. The woman I was with motivated me in so many ways and taught me a lot along the way. But after 3 years we called it quits. We made a choice to separate. Not an easy decision to chase my dream and let this business consume me. Since I became sole owner of the business, I didn't have much free time and definitely didn't have the energy to maintain a relationship. So I packed my shit and moved out.

@stoopidtall lent me the tour bus

@stoopidtall lent me the tour bus

After the relationship ended I was still unsure if the cafe was going to happen. I spent a couple months getting my shit together. During my search for a room to rent I was offered a rather unique living situation: a tour bus. After about 7 months living on the bus summer was coming to an end and it was time find a place and get settled in. But damn that was some of the best sleep I've ever had.

I wasn't sure Bikes & Coffee was going to make it. I had a timeline, and if I didn't find the cash I was going to have to call it quits. In June I found people that were interested in investing in Bikes & Coffee. I finalized the partner separation and sealed the deal with my investors. Finally, with both investor deals closed, I secured funding and begin renovating the cafe in November.

Late nights and early mornings. The year was scary, enlightening, frustrating, trying, sleepless, adventurous, tireless and incredibly rewarding.

-2016-

I kinda got divorced in 2016. But first Bikes & Coffee won $20,000.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 10.04.10 AM.png

We went through the Motor City Match program and pitched our idea. Never in a million years did I imagine winning, but we did. Shit gets real when your idea wins twenty grand.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 11.13.05 AM.png

Then, a year and a half after we had signed our letter of intent to lease space in Woodbridge, we were presented a lease. On April 23rd, 2016, we signed a 5-year lease, clinked a couple glasses with our landlord, and stepped into the next phase of ownership.

popping up at  Motorstadt

popping up at Motorstadt

Throughout all this, we popped up at events across metro Detroit: car and motorcycle shows, cycling events, farmers markets and retail spaces. We were patiently waiting for our own retail space to undergo its renovation. The space hadn't been used in a couple decades.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 11.02.01 AM.png

On top of all that, I had my own trying personal relationships and an unmotivated business partner. He decided to remove himself from the business and pursue other goals at the end of the year. Thankfully the separation was amicable, but it wasn't easy. We were married to the business and each other, sharing a lease and a cash reward from Motor City Match. It was like a divorce. It took about 9 months to finalize terms and have the proper paperwork in order.

Screen Shot 2018-03-08 at 11.42.47 AM.png

It wasn't easy, but I kept telling myself to stay the course. And I did.

-2015-

10403966_1576071669323554_4225626462979867892_o-683x1024.jpg

Bikes & Coffee becomes a thing in 2015. I was getting more serious about making it a real business. So I decided to take a Build Institute class, which is an incubator for entrepreneurs. Little did I know this was the decision that would really catapult my idea.

I met a ton of other entrepreneurs there, including Jonathan Colo. He wanted to open a cafe with a cycling element, and I wanted to open a bike shop with a cafe element. Sounded too good to be true, right? Right.

I think it was an 8 or 12 week class. At the end of the class we had a full-fledged business plan and started developing as a brand. The concept was alive and well and from there we focused on the type of place we wanted to be.

first generation graphic

first generation graphic

We started to do popups, showing up to Slow Roll and selling cold brew coffee, filling tires with air, and making minor adjustments to bikes. It was a busy year, trying to figure out how to run popups, develop our brand, work full-time and manage a personal life.


The year's riding season came and went. I was so busy I barely got to ride. We worked hard through the fall and winter, crafting our business plan and getting to the core of what we wanted the shop to be.

11270708_1578362059094515_2836672949594830877_o-1024x768.jpg

-2014-

Bikes and Coffee has been a business four years in the making. In 2014, I was working as a mechanic/manager at Sweet Bikes, a shop in the suburbs. Great family run shop. There, I fell back into what I enjoy most: riding, building and repairing bikes. I was kicking around the idea of opening a shop since I was a kid, but didn't really have any idea where to get started. Without a clue as to what I was doing or where I was going to do it, I began the journey of opening a bicycle cafe. 

 

At that time, Detroit was struggling; people had been leaving the city for years. A city of over 2.2 million people during its peak was down to less than 800,000. With that mass exodus and a bankruptcy, the city had hit rock bottom and began rebuilding. But growing up in the suburbs, I always had a soft spot for Detroit. I’d visit the city a lot when I was younger, taking pictures, skateboarding and biking. So when I decided to open a bicycle cafe, I decided there was no better place to do it than here.

 

slide1.jpg

 

 

2014 flew by. I fell in love, committed to this idea, grounded myself in the city and started to pursue the dream. After working my last summer at Sweet Bikes, I decided to get back into carpentry and figure out a way to stay flexible while I worked on opening the shop. That winter was cold. There was no heat in my VW and I didn’t have the cash to fix it. Driving 30 miles to work, freezing my ass off and not feeling closer to my dream, I was questioning every decision to pursue this shop.

 

IMG_2010.JPG

The cold finally passed, and in spring of 2015 I got a job with a design build firm in the city. Some daylight. My commute went from 30 miles to about three. I was in Detroit and that much closer to opening Bikes & Coffee.