Established in 2000, The Good Beans Cafe features an old-school bar stocked with teas, flavored syrups and key ingredients for your favorite coffee drinks. Like most coffee shops, its patrons gather together for caffeinated beverages, conversation and the occasional live music performance. But unlike most cafés – about once or twice a month – the Flint-based business extends its hours, becoming a temporary eatery for the evening.
“Pop-up restaurants are very popular in cities like Detroit,” says café owner Ken Van Wagoner. “We’re excited to bring the concept to Genesee County. It allows us to showcase some of our local culinary talent.”
The Good Beans Café – which has a limited kitchen setup – normally offers a light menu of bagels, muffins and other pastries. But on pop-up days, the café goes all out, with past menus centered around everything from naan pizzas to smoked chicken pozole. Guest chefs have included Tony Vu of MaMan, Joe Boike of BOKA and North Pond, and Christian Gilbert of Flint City Hard Cider Co., to name a few.
“One of the fun things about partnering with a chef is they have their own following, so they bring new customers to our business,” Van Wagoner says. “So these events turn new people on to us, while also introducing our regulars to these area chefs and restaurants.”
These pop-ups are part of a collaboration between Good Beans and the University Avenue Corridor Coalition, which is in the midst of a three-year Lighter Quicker Cheaper grant made possible by the East Central Association of Realtors and Michigan Realtors. The grant supports quick and inexpensive placemaking opportunities along the avenue.
According to Tom Wyatt, Project Manager for Renew the Avenue, the coalition liked the idea of offering local businesses and entrepreneurs the chance to test out market feasibility via different pop-up opportunities. They’ve done pop-up food trucks, a water park, and – most recently – the temporary restaurants at Good Beans.
“It’s a great way to see what’s viable and where there’s interest,” Wyatt says. “We’re all about creating more active spaces. Criminals are more prone to target areas where there are fewer eyes on the street.
“The more activity there is, the safer the space will be.”
According to Wyatt, the pop-up restaurants have attracted anywhere from 30 to 50 patrons – all during a time when the café would normally be closed.
Van Wagoner says he’s been very pleased with the outcome of the partnership and notes his appreciation for the resources that have been made available to his business.
“Kettering (part of the University Avenue Corridor Coalition) has removed its one-time, very insulated campus boundaries and truly embraced its surroundings,” he says. “As part of that geography, we remain proud to partner with the students, staff and faculty, continuing 16-plus years of pushing our agenda and credo of ‘constantly supporting community and culture, and the arts…’”
The Good Beans Café will host its next pop-up restaurant Monday, Nov. 28 from 5-8 p.m. The chef and menu will be posted closer to the date of the event on Facebook. To keep informed about future pop-ups, and other University Avenue Corridor events, click here and select subscribe.
The café, located at 328 N. Grand Traverse St., is open Mondays through Thursdays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.