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Last Mile Cafe founders invite community to help open a coffee shop on GR's SE side

A vacant store front on Hall Street is undergoing an exciting transformation

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — From a vacant storefront to a thriving roastery and coffee shop — that's what the founders of Last Mile Cafe are working towards on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. But they need your help.

Last Mile Cafe founder Arick Davis and his wife Sarah Laman couldn't be more excited about seeing this empty space on Hall Street transform.

"I grew up in this neighborhood. My grandma lived over here, my mom lived in houses over there. I remember riding my bike and exploring this neighborhood," explained Arick. 

Now the pair specialize in roasting coffee, but Last Mile Cafe is about so much more than that.

Credit: Provided

"We are a coffee shop that set out to create a better experience for everyone. We thought there was an opportunity to put sustainability first, put ethical sourcing first, create sustainable packaging and give back to our communities," explained Arick.

"We donate ten percent of our revenue to charity," explained Sarah. "When you buy a bag there are four cause areas on the front of the bag. There is youth at risk, environmental justice, criminal justice reform and clean drinking water, so when you buy a bag you can choose where you want your money to go." 

Up until now they've been an e-commerce business with some retail partners like the Southeast Market. This expansion to a brick and mortar space is huge for them, and the community. 

"It's a business that represents something more. Representation matters and people know that and it's a business that people can look to and be inspired and really be a staple in the community and people are excited about that," said Arick.

Opening the cafe is a massive undertaking but they aren't doing it alone. "We wanted people to feel a part of this, like it's a community space." That's why they launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. They have already surpassed their Tier One goal of $29,000. They would like to raise $91,000.

"All of it is going right into the building right here, flooring, walls, getting cabinets built by local builders, buying our espresso machine," explained Arick.

The crowdfunding campaign began on the first day of Black History Month and will end this Tuesday which is International Women's Day.

"This is an easy opportunity to support a growing business and really look at what does the future of our city look like? We talk a lot about Black History Month and Women's History Month but what are we doing collectively to look forward? I thought having a cafe that is opening in a predominately black community, that’s a good thing to focus on for black future month, that's a good thing to see come to reality."

Arick and Sarah hope to open Last Mile Cafe in early May.

At last check they've raised just over $29,000 which surpassed their Tier One goal. $58,000 would cover their espresso equipment, $91,000 would cover their roaster and installation.

If you'd like to help click here.

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