Mentobe Partners Bid Emotional Farewell to Farmington

Two more special events happen next week, before the doors of the coffee shop close Sept. 26.

Mentobe Cafe will close its doors Sept. 26. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
Mentobe Cafe will close its doors Sept. 26. Photo credit: Joni Hubred-Golden
A little over two years after they opened the doors, the owners of Mentobe Cafe in downtown Farmington will close them Sept. 26. 

Partners Kim Chapman and Jackie Mulvihill have already begun saying emotional goodbyes to their customers. They officially launched the coffee shop, with partner Dave Epps, in the newly renovated McNutt building next to the Farmington Civic Theater on June 13, 2011. 

Mentobe got a great response to a "soft opening" during Art on the Grand, a downtown Farmington arts festival. The partners were also buoyed by Founders Festival, which draws tens of thousands to people to downtown Farmington in July. 

But after that, business slowed. The shop, which offers coffee, flavored teas, soups, sandwiches, frozen yogurt, smoothies and sweets, never got the foot traffic it needed to gain profitability. 

"It's been coming for a long time," Mulvihill said. "We thought it would be a little more consistent flow ... We thought Farmington was closer to turning around, but that's not happening yet. I'm not sure that's something we could have known." 

Both women agree the best part of their experience has been the people who have supported the business. "They're just so kind and generous," Chapman said. "That's a good thing that's come out of this."

"The customers we've gotten to know are people we would never have gotten to know in our previous lives," Mulvihill said. "It's been fantastic getting to know these people." 

The last two special events at Mentobe Cafe next week will be Wednesday Night Sessions with local authors and Songwriters Anonymous, a musician showcase, on Thursday. 

What's your favorite memory of Mentobe Cafe? Tell us with a comment.
Darren Whittaker September 22, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Tuesday Morning tried and failed in Farmington already - not sure what has changed that makes them believe this time will be different, but at least it's one less empty store. For a while at least..
Kathleen Rodak September 23, 2013 at 05:10 PM
It is very sad to see the closing of Mentobe Cafe. Many complain about the lack of late hours and Sunday hours. They tried those hours by staying open in the evening during the first year. The patrons were not there. It was not financially feasible to stay open if only one or two people come in and order a coffee and muffin. Thank you Jackie and Kim for all you did to try to make the business a success. You invited local artists in to show their works and encouraged local groups to meet in the shop for their meetings. I don't know what more you could have done. The Farmington Art Foundation Gallery will also be closing at the end of September. The support to keep it open was just not there. Thank you to everyone who ventured in and looked around and to those who purchased art pieces. It was a great adventure over the summer. We hope to return next year if a store front is available.
Hannah Peters September 24, 2013 at 01:05 AM
I am utterly FLOORED at the laziness of this community, in terms of supporting local businesses. Mentobe had certain shortcomings, but it never ceases to amaze me how many complaints I hear constantly about having to walk a half block from their parking spot. (These parking spots are always free and unmetered.) Has anyone in this town ever been to a city with a population of more than 200,000? Perhaps a college town in Michigan? Anywhere west of Grand Rapids? Birmingham? Chicago? New York? LA? These cities all have costly parking that can be a long walk from the CBD. The DDA, city and chamber are political arguments that are ongoing - but Farmington has never had the "destination" mentality. Why walk around the corner for Mentobe? Why support our downtown businesses? Perhaps the answer to the question lies in the countless vacant storefronts.
nancy kilner September 24, 2013 at 06:10 AM
Hannah, you have made some excellent points regarding Mentobe. Couldn't agree with you more!
Darren Whittaker September 24, 2013 at 10:27 AM
Hannah, while it is certainly a good thing to support local businesses, the fact is the vast majority of people don't shop somewhere based on that sentiment alone. They WILL support businesses that cater to them, that make the case for enduring inconveniences, however small, that might present themselves. The cities you mention have at least one thing in common - they have places people WANT to go, for product selection, great presentation and good value. You're absolutely right that too many people have gotten complacent about walking even a short distance for almost anything, and it's the big box and strip mall convenience stores that have contributed to this laziness. But blaming the customer NEVER works. It won't increase sales, and it just leaves the businesses with the option of closing their doors. That's why many of these businesses are in dire need of expert advice, from marketing and advertising to product offering, pricing and yes, hours of operation. The city, DDA and chamber could be of great help in this regard if they had the will to do so. Unfortunately, they're stuck in their long-held belief that what they're doing presently, and have been doing for decades, is the best that they can do. We've seen the results. It's time for a fresh approach.


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