What would make a business owner move from Ferndale, a bustling inner-ring suburb of Detroit, to Highland Park, one of Michigan’s most struggling cities? According to A.J. O’Neil, a native of HP, as it is affectionately called, it takes a commitment to seeing his hometown rebound from decades of disinvestment and economic challenges.
O’Neil operated AJ’s Cafe, a coffeehouse and gathering place in Ferndale, for five years before closing the establishment in March. Not to be deterred by a difficult economy or high rents, O’Neil did what any true entrepreneur would do- he found another way to generate revenue. After the cafe closed, he renamed his enterprise AJ’s Coffeeworks and launched an online store selling Detroit Bold, his custom-blended coffee.
However, his desire to be “one spoke in a huge wheel that will get the city moving towards economic recovery” led him to the basement of St. Benedict’s Church, the coffeehouse’s new location. ”We’re in our humble beginnings,” O’Neil said. “We’re taking the great things we accomplished in AJ’s in Ferndale and simply moving it into a church basement.”
Although the name of his new establishment is not yet finalized, the concept is certain. The coffeehouse will specialize in an all-vegan menu with ingredients sourced from urban farms in both Detroit and Highland Park. Becharas Brothers, a coffee supplier founded in 1914 and currently located in Highland Park, will supply the coffee. The spot is set to open August 19 with a great mix of food, music and poetry.
In case you missed it, the story here is about much more than coffee.
If you’re frustrated with the current state of your neighborhood or city,why not find something you can do to help it regain some of its greatness?
Source: Huffington Post Detroit