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Partners Move from Marketing to Mentobe

A new cafe in downtown Farmington offers sandwiches, soup and sweets.

Kim Chapman and Jackie Mulvihill get a little emotional when they talk about the reception they've received since their new coffee shop opened Monday in downtown Farmington.

Chapman, Mulvihill and their partner Dave Epps launched Mentobe Cafe with the purchase of the McNutt building on Grand River early this year. They started working on interior renovations in March and opened the doors briefly during Art on the Grand, before this week's official launch.

Along the way, they say they've gotten overwhelming support from city staff, the , and, of course, their new customers.

On Monday, one couple stopped by for coffee and returned a little while later with a colorful bouquet of flowers.

"They said, 'We're just glad you're here,'" Mulvihill recalled.

The partners have strong connections to the community; Mulvihill lives here, and Chapman is a graduate, as was her father. The two worked with Epps in his marketing company for 23 years.

"When the mortgage industry tanked, our company struggled," Mulvihill said. "We had a period where we were working 20 to 32 hours a week."

Mulvihill and Chapman stuck with it but started speculating about what they might do next. Epps finally sold the company, and "next" became "now." They settled on the idea of a coffee shop when they found the McNutt building.

"It was just that kind of place," Mulvihill said. She had long dreamed about opening a bookstore, and she later learned the building once housed Books Abound, a used bookstore.

Those kinds of coincidences happened over and over as the partners put their plans into action. As they were thinking about a name for the business, the words "meant to be" came up—and that's how they settled on the name.

"Every step along the way, it seemed like something would happen," Chapman said.

While meant to be, the business also required hard work and long hours spent learning how to roast coffee beans, crafting their unique smoothie recipes and selecting a supplier for their baked goods. All the while, they were also "hands-on" with the interior remodel.

"We would come here every day and check on the progress, and then Jackie and I would go somewhere else and do research," Chapman said. "The fun part was working on the smoothies."

Mentobe smoothies have a yogurt base and are made with fruit, not flavorings. The shop also carries frozen yogurt and will have a sugar-free vanilla yogurt available soon. There are also sugar-free flavorings for coffee, which can be bought by the cup or by the pound. Beans are roasted on-site; in addition to the Mentobe blend, the shop will offer new flavors as "Cup of the Day."

If you've got a favorite kind of coffee, just ask, Mulvihill said. Mentobe has access to beans from around the world. The cafe also carries some fair trade and organic coffees, along with several varieties of tea.

The food menu includes tuna and chicken salad croissants and wraps, soups and pasta salads, supplied by Green Lake Gourmet in Bloomfield. A selection of chocolates comes from Gayle's Chocolates in Royal Oak, and baked goods—including muffins, sweet rolls, cookies and brownies—are Gordon Foods' Sienna and Sweet Streets products.

Mentobe Cafe also aims to feed the soul, with the work of local artists soon hanging on the walls and local poets and musicians performing. "We really want to tie in to the community," Chapman said.

Right now, hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and closed on Sundays. But if you arrive at 7:30 a.m. and the coffee's ready, Chapman said, they'll open the doors for you. You don't have to worry about shooting out the door at closing time, either.

"We want people to feel comfortable," Chapman said, "like you're in your own family room ... We don't care if you stay all day."

A pleasant surprise has been the variety of customers walking through the doors. The partners said they've seen families with children, seniors, teenagers and all ages in between.

"I love that," Mulvihill said. "It's just a different mix."

"We were hoping that would happen," Chapman added.

Stop by Mentobe Cafe at 33336 Grand River, or call 248-987-6481 for more information. A website is under construction at mentobecafe.com.

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