Tree City rewrite

Meghan Bogardus

Tree City Coffee & Pastry, the newest addition to the developments of Acorn Alley II opened its doors to the community at 5:30 a.m. Monday, and by lunchtime it was already a hub of social activity.

“It’s always very exciting to have a new local business,” said Chelsea Lamb, a Kent resident who came out to try some coffee with friends.

Mark Brewer, another resident, agreed, saying it was nice to have another new option.

“I think it is a great place,” he said.

“It’ll be interesting to see patterns after a week,” said co-owner Evan Bailey, who is also an assistant professor in journalism and mass communication at Kent State.

Work on the shop has been noticeable over the last few months. For co-owners Bailey, Mike Beder and Brian Bower, it has been a project years in the making.

While Beder, the owner of Water Street Tavern and Bower, the operator of Cajun Dave’s, have experience in running a restaurant, they had little knowledge of a coffee shop.

Research brought them to New York City twice, where they took to the streets to look at a variety of coffee houses and bakeries.

“We started on the Upper Westside with this Google map and got all the way down to the financial district over the course of an 18 hour day,” Beder said.

In addition to studying the ways of New York businesses, Bailey said they also met with a lot of area roasters to determine what kind of coffee they wanted to serve.

Tree City is partnering with Bent Tree Roasters in Kent and Solstice Coffee and Tea Service in Cleveland. Bailey said it was important for them to partner with local businesses, but also with businesses that worked with fair and direct trade coffees.

Right down to the design, Bailey said Tree City was about keeping it local. The co-owners worked with architecture professors at Kent State to design the coffee house and they worked with all local materials, including reclaimed wood.

Bailey said he sees Tree City as a great place for students and community members to get together and socialize.

“I’m trying to create a true community coffee house experience,” Bailey said. “It’s a people business first and a coffee business closely second.”

During the various test runs they did in past weeks, Bailey recalled prominent community figures like the mayor, members of Kent State’s board of trustees and local bank officials coming together.

“It really embodies a community spirit,” he said.

Bailey said the owners took to heart what community members would want from a coffee shop, particularly students. Through working with an audience analysis class at Kent State, Bailey discovered one thing students would like in a coffee house were more outlets. Tree City has outlets every four feet, so each table has two sets of plugs.

Sydney Jordan, a graduate student in information archives and knowledge management and Kailiei Babcock, a senior nursing major, were already using Tree City to study. They said the number of outlets was one of the first things they noticed.

“It’s definitely going to be a great place to study,” Babcock said.

Another thing that sets Tree City apart is their drive thru service.

“That’s something for students on the go, mothers with children in the car, commuters and when it’s inclement weather,” Bailey said. “That was something they saw a big need for.”

In the next coming weeks, Tree City will be hosting a number of social events, including a wine tasting.

Tree City Coffee & Pastry is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mon. through Fri. and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sat. and Sun. During finals week at Kent State, they plan to increase there hours even more.