Devastating Fire Burned Building to Ground but Sparked Hope

Rising Grinds overcame a devastating fire to finally open this past November.

Alittle over a year ago, firefighters responded to a building engulfed in flames. Rising Grinds, a café set to open in spring 2017, had suddenly caught fire and burned to the ground.

The devastating event was not the end of a business dream, but instead, a turning point in the journey of a united community. On Nov. 20, the café opened for business, at 1167 Madison Ave SE, after the long year of setbacks.

Rising Grinds is the second social enterprise initiated by the Grand Rapids Community Center for Transformation.

“The café started down the road in the youth development center. We first got started in training some students in hospitality, customer service, food service and coffee,” said Shea Johnson, café manager.

Rising Grinds baristas are trained by employees of Ferris Coffee & Nut.
Rising Grinds baristas are trained by employees of Ferris Coffee & Nut.

Johnson said the fire “really delayed our efforts and slowed us down, but we kept chugging along, we kept training students in our little location at the center.”

The mission of Rising Grinds is “cultivating creativity and community with every cup.”

The café works with many local businesses to ensure the fulfillment of its mission. Its partnership with Bethany Christian Services is “crucial because they provide services for young adults, like the youth build program, and that’s where our youth come from,” said Johnson. “There are currently eight employees, seven of them are under the age of 25.”

Rising Grinds also partners with Ferris Coffee for barista training and expertise on specialty coffee, which is a big portion of the menu.

Along with coffee and tea, Rising Grinds offers numerous breakfast and lunch options. From pancakes to specialty breakfast sandwiches to salads and soup, the menu is designed to please everyone.

Not only does Rising Grinds work to give youth an opportunity, it also aims to go beyond its walls and give back to the community.

The space and its kitchen is available to rent for events, gatherings, birthday parties, et cetera. “We want to provide an incubation space for upcoming entrepreneurs. What this means is, if someone is looking to start a restaurant and needs to rent a commercial kitchen to get their food made, they could be in a certified kitchen here, rent this space, and help launch a business,” Johnson said.

It’s businesses like Rising Grinds that keep local roots and positive vibes alive in Grand Rapids.

“We wanted to give back and give folks an opportunity to use this space to gather, meet and socialize, but also, use our kitchen and help get their business off the ground,” Johnson said.

The café is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.