Brewing up at Livernois Avenue and Six Mile Road in the Bagley neighborhood is a new business that’s been getting buzz since before its grand opening.
Local coffee shop Detroit Sip will open at 7420 West McNichols Road in late-August or early September. Jevona Watson, a resident of the nearby neighborhood and owner of the establishment, says operating and building a coffee shop has always been a dream of hers – though the process to open one wasn’t what she expected.
“I jokingly said, ‘If I ever won the Lotto, that’s what I wanted to do,’” she says, “I’m still doing it and I still haven’t won the Lotto. I honestly just wanted to open a coffee shop in my hometown.”
With an assortment of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and cold beverages, Detroit Sip also will offer locally manufactured products like Dutch Girl Donuts, Towne Club soda, Faygo drinks, and Better Made potato chips, plus cookies, brownies, and soups.
But Watson says acquiring the shop has come with challenges. A west side Detroit native, she attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate and law degrees, and works as a full-time attorney in Macomb County. Watson wasn’t formerly trained in business and didn’t know opening Detroit Sip would be a lengthy process, partly because she will be selling consumable products. The endeavor called for more than keeping up with the local building code, she adds, but has been a huge learning curve to familiarize herself with setting up a restaurant.
Coffee has been a long-time indulgence of Watson’s. While away at school, she would study in the local café, finding comfort in the freshly brewed beverage.
“It’s just relaxing for me, and I was surprised by that because, growing up here, we didn’t have coffee shops,” she adds. “And so that whole atmosphere that you have, where there’s quiet conversations, people are doing their own thing, but everyone’s respectful of one another – that was something that was foreign to me, and something that I liked, enjoyed and wanted to see here.”
Detroit Sip is in the community served by Live6 Alliance, a nonprofit planning and development organization that represents the interests of about 50,000 residents in eight neighborhoods along Livernois Avenue and McNichols (Six Mile) Road. Live6 Co-director Lauren Hood says there is demand for a business at Detroit Sip’s site, particularly for a place where people can get together with colleagues or neighbors.
“On the commercial strip between those two colleges on Six Mile, (University of) Detroit Mercy and Marygrove, there are no other businesses that you can kind of just mingle in,” says Hood. “I think it’s going to provide people from the University and people from the neighborhood a place to mingle.”
Live6 has hosted several events at the location without it being open to the public. Mayor Mike Duggan has even mentioned Detroit Sip as an example of small business success stories.
Having her shop in the Bagley neighborhood, where she moved in 2005, was also an important factor for Watson. Being near the area’s colleges and bringing people “outside of the gates” of campus and subdivision boundaries was one goal. Detroit Sip’s website includes mission statements like “bridging the gaps between the business, collegiate and residential communities one SIP at a time.”
“I do associate these places with my neighborhood and I take it very personally when people ask me, ‘Why build there?’” says Watson. “…why not build there?”
Tameka Kelly, a friend of Watson’s, always thought Watson’s dream to open a coffee shop in the city would help fill a void.
“I was all for it because we don’t have it, especially a black-owned coffee shop in the city,” says Kelly. “So I thought it was a wonderful idea.”
While Good Cakes and Bakes, located on Livernois near Seven Mile, is also black-operated, she says Detroit Sip’s addition will enhance the landscape. For Kelly, putting businesses in the city means enlivening neighborhoods that might otherwise seem forgotten.
“You have a lot of businesses that are not operating, so to re-open one over there where she’s opened her business says that there’s growth and there’s potential,” Kelly says. “It’s going to improve the area, just in general, with businesses opening up. People want to shop in the city.”
Editor’s note: To discover more about Detroit Sip and stay up to date on planned promotions, visit them at detroitsip.com. Read more about how Detroit’s coffee shops are changing the city’s culture and neighborhood redevelopment efforts.
To learn more about Bank of America’s many programs and resources for small business owners visit: https://www.bankofamerica.com/smallbusiness/business-financing.go
Lead photo: Jevona Watson opened Detroit Sip after becoming fond of cafés during her time as a Michigan State University student. Photo by Michelle & Chris Gerard
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