Tree City Coffee using organic design elements

Fireplace surrounded by small reclaimed wooden tables in Tree City Coffee, Feb. 14. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum

Fireplace surrounded by small reclaimed wooden tables in Tree City Coffee, Feb. 14. Photo by Chelsae Ketchum

Ben Jordan

Kent is still buzzing after Tree City Coffee and Pastry’s grand opening on Jan. 16, but this time it’s not from the coffee.

The new coffee shop, located downtown in Acorn Alley II, offers a variety of organic food and drinks like freshly ground peanut butter and steamed apple juices. But what really sets Tree City apart from others businesses is how it’s using organic architecture and decor.

Co-owner Evan Bailey said he worked with faculty in the School of Architecture and Environmental Design to help design the restaurant. He said they used many symbols that embody Kent, like squirrels, acorns and trees to create a theme of “urban botany.”

“We liked the name Tree City,” Bailey said. “And we started looking at that word and we saw that tree and city is kind of a juxtaposition of concepts and we liked that about it and we took a twist on that and turned those words into urban botany.”

Bailey said he and his partner Mike Beder traveled to coffee shops around the country, including New York City. They incorporated all the ideas they liked into Tree City. They used details like old reclaimed wood in the restaurant’s furniture and metal benches hand-welded in Kent to promote the urban botany theme.

“The bar is cherry which is probably about 400 years old,” Bailey said. “We’re not quite sure, but the barn we got it from was built in 1800. And the walnut benches are probably 300 years old.”

Some customers at Tree City are enthusiastic about the urban botany theme it has incorporated. Matthew Caine, senior communication studies major, said he was surprised when he heard Tree City has organic fixtures to accompany their menu.

“It’s so cool how they find those giant pieces of wood and recycle them,” Caine said. “Small stuff like that is what gives a place character. It looks awesome and it’s good for the environment, too.”

Students also played a part in creating the atmosphere of Tree City. Bailey said students from Danielle Coombs’ Audience Analysis and Research class studied Tree City as a client. He said they generated ideas about the space and theme and he integrated that into the restaurant’s layout.

Bailey said he is still working to decorate the coffee shop to reinforce the urban botany idea.

“We’re adding a lot of Victorian era prints dealing with botany,” Bailey said. “It’s kind of taking a more scientific approach to the concept of what Tree City could be. We think it’s a unique space. I’m not saying it’s going to be everybody’s cup of tea so to speak, but we like it.”

Contact Ben Jordan at [email protected].