There may be brown paper covering the storefront’s windows, but the space at 4432-34 St. John Avenue is full of ideas and dreams that are taking shape for a new community eatery.
The row of storefronts was purchased several years ago by Healing House, which has its main administrative office across the street at 4505 St. John Avenue. Founder Bobbi Jo Reed saw the strip of mostly vacant storefronts as an opportunity to provide job training to residents in Healing House’s recovery program as well as bring new businesses into the Indian Mound neighborhood.
Work on the building proceeds as funds become available. This year, donations from a Giving Tuesday (November 28) campaign, “Turning beans into dreams”, spotlighted efforts to purchase equipment for the planned cafe. According to Marketing Coordinator Garrison Galley, the fund-raising goal was $2000 but over $3000 was pledged.
“Prior to the campaign, we had a list of items we had priced out, such as an espresso machine- it’s all very expensive,” Galley remarked.
The new cafe will have a full kitchen and seating for around 75 patrons, both inside and out. The outdoor seating deck is spacious and overlooks Healing House’s Memorial Garden. Indoor seating will have charging docks for laptops and phones, and will have a small stage to provide entertainment.
With the exception of the manager that will oversee daily food and beverage operations, Reed expects the cafe will be solely operated by residents currently participating in the faith-based center’s drug and alcohol recovery programs. The eight-week training period will provide income and job training, as well as real-life work experience.
In addition to coffee and coffee-based beverages, Reed plans to offer fresh fruit juices and energy drinks. “We can make something like a Monster or Red Bull (brand) without all of those preservatives,“ she said. “The focus is that everything we offer will be fresh, healthy.”
Named the Comfort Cafe, Reed wants to build a place where patrons not only feel comfortable to come and meet with friends and family, but offer ‘comfort food’ menu items. “We’ll have daily lunch, dinner specials as well as simple sandwiches, soups,” Reed added.
“I see this space as a blessing for the community. Where they can socialize in a good environment. We can have events here, on our little stage we can have local musicians, karaoke, just something fun,“ she continued.
As work progresses, Reed is working with her architect to finalize the kitchen layout for optimum efficiency. Once that’s completed and meets approval, they can begin applying for the necessary permits. At this point, projected opening for the cafe is slated for sometime between March and May of next year.
Both Galley and Reed are excited as the long awaited project creeps closer to completion.
“Watch for a Grand Opening’, said Reed. “We want to make it a special event, and we want this space to be a hub of activity for the community.”
For more information about Healing House’s recovery programs, volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, visit www.healinghouse.org or call 816- 920- 7181.