When Chip and Karen Van Klompenburg decided to begin a new career path together, their idea for a coffee shop was only just beginning to grow into what is now The Stray Music and Arts Café.
Working together to build the newest unordinary coffee shop, the pair are almost ready to release their opening date after a long summer of renovations and coffee tastings.
The building they purchased at 4253 S. Division Ave. in Wyoming is set to be a place that caters to both hometown coffee lovers and a venue for local artists of all mediums to practice their craft. The idea behind their music and arts café is to have live art going on at all times of the day on their stage, though their first few months will most likely have performances more scattered throughout the week. Whether it’s painting, poetry, dance or live music, The Stray will always have something going on to enjoy while sipping on coffee, wine or beer.
“We kind of had a lifelong dream of having a community space where people could just hang out, and that turned into a coffee shop idea a while back along with live music and arts,” Chip said. “We want to be able to connect artists and the community in a small, more intimate atmosphere.”
Chip’s role in the business as president is certainly a change from his previous career in partnership with his brother at Extol, an automation machinery producer. Karen’s role as creative director is a little less far-fetched from her previous job as a freelance interior design artist. Together, the pair have the experience and creativity to turn The Stray into something unique that Grand Rapids locals will want to make a regular hangout. With the help of their son, Hunter, who recently graduated from Belmont University with a degree in music business, they’ll be scheduling live performers in no time.
“Some people like to go to the park, some people like to go to the beach, some people like to go to the library — lots of people like to hang out at their hometown coffee shops, and that’s the place we want to be,” Chip said, “where they feel known.”
The purpose of making The Stray a creative and comfortable environment is to encourage customers and local artists to call the café their third place, meaning it comes after their home and their work as a place for community and relaxation. Aside from their focus on artistry, the pair also plan to serve pastries and coffee drinks for the breakfast crowd, soups and sandwiches for lunch breaks, and flatbreads and charcuterie boards for the 5 o’clock crew.
“We really want to continue to promote the arts here in Grand Rapids and help promote the individual artists,” Chip said.
The Van Klompenburg family aims to open the doors to The Stray in early fall. So, whether you’re an artist or art supporter, The Stray hopes to be your third place in Grand Rapids.