Jenny Cole has been working for months to secure a location and plan for the opening of Brody’s Be Cafe. Inspired by her 12-year-old son, Brody, who has down syndrome, she’s opening the cafe as a way to celebrate him. It will be a place to hang out, have a drink, and celebrate individuals for who they are.
The Planning Phase
Cole has spent months raising money and was finally able to secure a location in Ada for the cafe. The Lowell Middle School English Language Arts teacher lives in Ada and Brody attends Forest Hills Schools. Announced in July, 7267 Thornapple River Drive in Ada will be the location of the cafe when it opens. It is currently going through the process to prepare to welcome customers. The cafe has been seeking donations of various items to help with preparations to open. Their Facebook page has posted requesting various needed items.
Hayden Hoffman and Rachel Stadt are already in place to serve as managers of the location. Interviews will take place later in August or September. “My plan is to have an employee partnership with individuals who have special needs and those who do not specifically have cognitive or physical disabilities. I even hate to say it that way, because I feel like it labels people. Anyone can work at Brody’s be Cafe!” says Cole. Specifics on interviews will be determined by how setting up the inside of the shop move along, although it’s estimated 10-15 employees will be hired.
Focus on Experience
The hope for Cole is that the cafe will offer a positive experience for those who visit and are employed at the location. Her goal is to provide a space where the atmosphere is one of belonging. It will be a place which will foster kindness and understanding. It will be a place to come with friends and make new ones.
The shop will offer coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and smoothies. It’s anticipated that a game area for things such as a pool table or ping-pong table will also promote the mission of the cafe. Continuing the effort to celebrate diversity, Brody’s Be Cafe is partnering with Stir It Up, who employs individuals with special needs, to offer baked goods. Cole believes that people leave the cafe with a better understanding of how individuals can be kind and belong in a diverse community.
Volunteers are also welcome and encouraged to help with tasks needed to run the cafe on a daily basis. And as with any non-profit organization, monetary donations are constantly needed in order to keep going. Cole anticipates fundraisers and events in the coming months to help promote awareness of the cafe’s mission and garner support. The cafe’s Go Fund Me account has already raised over $25,000 and is looking to reach $30,000 to go toward continued efforts as opening nears.
Cole has worked with several groups and organizations to help make Brody’s Be Cafe become a reality. “I have spoken to so many people over the last 10 months who have helped. I couldn’t possibly name them all!” she says. After 26 Depot in Cadillac has given a lot of advice as they have the same concept. The owner of the location where the cafe will be in Ada, Tom Korth and his family foundation have also been supportive of Cole’s plight. Cole is also thankful for all of the monetary and physical items as well as time donated to help get the cafe closer to hiring and opening.
An official opening date has still not been announced but is anticipated for later this year or early next year. Follow Brody’s Be Cafe on Facebook for updates.
Photos courtesy of Jenny Cole and used with permission.