Cafe Rhema brings vintage look, feel to downtown Flint with the grand opening of newly remodeled coffee shop

FLINT, MI – It’s a new coffee shop with an old feel.

From the vintage furniture and roaring 20s Great Gatsby feel, to the more modern espresso and Americano drinks, Café Rhema – formerly known as Brown Sugar Café – hosted its grand opening on Monday, Aug. 12, to showcase its new menu and new digs at its 432 S. Saginaw St. location in downtown Flint location.

The café is unlike any other in Flint or across the country, said new owner Josh Spencer.

“My goal was to appeal to the older crowd as well as the young adult population as well. I wanted to create a place where even people who are walking past the front door can be wowed by it when they see it and have something that’s done so well and so unique that people will be drawn in,” he said.

“I had tours everywhere across the country and I’ve been to dozens of coffee shops in major cities, interviewing shop owners and the girl who actually ran, setup and start all of the Seattle’s Best coffee shops in the country.

About three dozen café-goers and community leaders attended the event, and Flint Mayor Dayne Walling was on hand for the ribbon cutting.

Walling said that Spencer’s investment into the city – as well as other recent business start-ups downtown – signify a resurgence in Flint’s downtown.

“One of the signs of a healthy business districts is that a business can change hands and continue to be successful. We all know it’s hard work being an entrepreneur and being a small business owner and often…. If the economy’s not quite right or if the customers aren’t quite there then it’s not that easy for that business to be passed on to a new owner to give it a new life and give it a second chapter,” Walling said.

“So what we’re seeing in downtown Flint…is that this is a place that people see a good opportunity to invest – a good opportunity to bring something new to our students and to our downtown workers and our visitors who are here each and every day.”

Café Rhema – the Greek word which translates to “utterance” or “things said” – will serve as a meeting place for the business community as well as the students in the area.

Open seven days a week, the café will close daily at 10 p.m.

Chad Schlosser, a 25-year-old Flint resident, said that he loves the new design and feel of the café and that he’s never been in a place like it in the Flint area.

“It’s amazing. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind place and I love that it honors and values the history and rich traditions of Flint. There’s really no other place like this in the city where you can get like this 1920s kind of atmosphere,” Schlosser said.

“I think that they’re opening right now to get ready for the return of students and I think the students are definitely going to utilize the space. I liked Brown Sugar, but I think this is definitely an improvement and it’s very unique and different than any of the other coffee shops in Flint.”

Spencer’s plans for Rhema aren’t confined to just Flint. The young entrepreneur said that if the café is as successful as he hopes it will be, there may be room for expansion through franchising.

“I don’t just want to start out small and be known as a local coffee shop. I’m a ‘Go big or go home’ kind of guy, so I want to have a coffee shop in Flint that is perhaps one of the best coffee shops in the country. That’s my goal,” he said.

“In the planning of this it got exciting to see that there’s not anything that even closely compares to something like this. For me, I think it will be so unique that it will catch on and … in the future, if this goes well, then maybe there would be the potential to franchise and turn it into something even bigger.”

Original article by Jeremy Allen for MLive.
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