A new coffee shop and veteran-focused creative organization, Has Heart Coffee Shopt, unveiled improvements to its historic building recently at Veterans Memorial Park, located at 22 Sheldon Ave. NE.
“What a fitting space for fostering community connection with our veterans living in Grand Rapids,” said Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation director David Marquardt. “We’re excited to embark on this partnership to enhance visitor experience at such an important downtown park space.”
Renovations to the historic building began in 2022 and total $916,000. Upgrades include structural and accessibility improvements, indoor and outdoor café seating, a retail space, and art display areas to showcase local veteran artists. The City’s capital improvement fund and parks millage fund each contributed $250,000 for building improvements. The Downtown Development Authority and HAS HEART contributed $166,000 and $250,000 respectively for construction and the interior and exterior furnishings.
An idea that started over a cup of coffee in 2010 between 8-year U.S. Navy veteran Michael Hyacinthe, 44, and artist/designer Tyler Way, 37, has evolved from annual ArtPrize exhibits and pop-up shops featuring their collaborative design projects between veterans and professional designers. Since 2011, their work has filled unoccupied spaces around Grand Rapids, including inside and outside of the newly renovated building.
“We now have the opportunity with the Has Heart Coffee Shop to honor veterans and their sacrifices on a daily basis,” said Hyacinthe. “To be able to do so in a beautiful historic building that opens to the park’s monuments featuring the names of local men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms is extremely meaningful for us. We’re honored to activate this space to build community and bring others together.”
The coffee shop is actively hiring and training veterans and their partners to help with operations and will be open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Selecting a veterans organization to operate this historic structure in Veterans Memorial Park honors those who have served, brings another business to our growing community, and activates one of our parks. All of these things make our city better,” said Richard App, the City’s retail, retention & attraction specialist.
Community partners, likewise, are excited for this enhancement to downtown and Veterans Memorial Park.
“Having personally witnessed the power of our Hero [series] creative collaborations between each veteran and designer pairing over the past 10-plus years, I’m looking forward to welcoming the public into our space where political differences, income discrepancies, and stereotypes can be left behind so that honest, genuine, and relationship-building conversations can happen over a premium cup of coffee and a freshly made Field & Fire baked good,” Way added.
“DGRI is thrilled to celebrate the opening of HAS HEART at Veterans Memorial Park,” said Tim Kelly, president & CEO of Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. “Michael and Tyler have been amazing partners, and seeing the vision come to life in time to celebrate Veterans Day is a timely and incredible achievement. We’re honored to support this effort and look forward to enjoying some great coffee and unique art in this beautiful, newly activated space.”
The design team for the project is Ghafari Associates and the construction team is Pride Builders Group.