President’s Report

bill20161KPEP Coffee shop to open in early 2017

Coffee and culinary arts will intersect in 2017 as KPEP gets back into the business of food! The new program will combine culinary arts classes for residents and a KPEP-run coffee shop.

This exciting project evolved from a strategic planning session in January 2015, which included several board members and members of the KPEP management team. At that meeting, the planning team agreed that KPEP should explore new vocational programs and the possibility of operating a small restaurant or café.

As the idea developed, a logical location for a café soon emerged. A vacant building at the corner of Walnut and Park – just steps away from the front door of the Park Street facility – would be home to the new venture.  After purchasing the property in January, our team began developing the plan to design and operate the coffee shop and restaurant.

Local partnerships serve as the cornerstone for launching this new venture. With decades of experience in the food business, Canteen Services and their management team of Craig and Jeff Tiggleman and Robin Sherman are providing essential expertise and support.  The Canteen Team, in partnership with the Michigan Career and Technical Institute, has designed the culinary arts program which will provide the food for the coffee shop.

Water Street Coffee Joint, a local Kalamazoo favorite, will supply our coffee.

Tera Staten and Casey Grisolono, will manage the shop. Tera and Casey, both former employees of Water Street, recently launched Project Sightglass. They bring years of business experience to the venture.  Casey, a Certified Advanced Barista, specializes in the coffee business, customer service, production and operations, while Tera brings a wealth of sales and marketing experience to the table. Both share a commitment to building community around great coffee. We look forward to working with them as they help launch and manage the operation.

The initial vision is to keep the menu simple.  Muffins, scones, fruit and yogurt will be some of the options in the morning.  The lunch menu will feature grab and go salads, sandwiches and wraps.  Specialty soft drinks and water will be available as well.

The coffee shop will target the commuting crowd coming down Park Street into Kalamazoo each morning as well as those wanting to pick up something quick for breakfast or lunch.  A small conference room in the building will be available for customers to use for business meetings.

There is ample parking, which is a real plus for a downtown location.  Catering will be part of the business; and will be available soon through the Culinary Arts program.

While there are many exciting aspects of the new venture, primary benefits will come through providing excellent training and employment opportunities for our residents, who will strive to find employment elsewhere in the community.  We will work with local restaurants to provide a pool of potential employees.  KPEP’s goal is to have frequent turnover, as this means these men and women will have developed the skills necessary to find gainful employment elsewhere.

At the next level, our goal is to hire a couple KPEP graduates to serve as assistant manager positions as they go beyond culinary, and learn how to run a business and manage employees.