by CLIFF AND NANCY
In early 2010 Joel and Melanie Pritchett and their three children, Daniel, Jordyn, and Taylor, were leading comfortable lives in Seattle, Washington. However, in April of that year, their lives were about to change.
Melanie, who goes by Mel, found her management job with Verizon, in the Pacific Northwest, being eliminated because of a buy out by Frontier Communications. Verizon offered Mel the opportunity to transfer either to Wisconsin, Ohio, or Michigan. Not wanting to give up her 12-year management career, she and husband Joel decided that, of the three choices, Michigan was the place to be. Joel was a Minnesotan born and raised, loved mid-west winters, football, and NASCAR and Michigan had all of that and more – in spades.
The plot thickened. In order to uproot their family and relocate to the Midwest, Joel had to resign from his 20-year management position with aviation giant – Boeing Company. For Joel it was a somewhat easy decision. He had become steadily disillusioned with the ever-escalating and never-ending corporate demands placed upon him and co-workers as a result of the worst decade-long economic decline since the Great Depression.
In April of 2010, the Pritchett’s found themselves enroute to the “Mitten State”. They found a home in Grant and Mel resumed her career with Verizon in Muskegon.
Joel found a job with a Michigan company and all was well, or so it seemed.
A short year and a half later, the final axe was about to fall when Mel learned her position with Verizon was being eliminated by another round of corporate downsizing.
“We had ‘had it’ with the corporate world,” said the Pritchett’s. Joel pulled the plug on his new job and buoyed somewhat by Mel’s sizeable severance package the couple decided to pursue a dream of small business entrepreneurship.
They began, in earnest, to seek a location in Newaygo County to build a brick and mortar coffee house complete with a drive-up window. The coffee house decision was not a whim. Joel was raised in a successful family of restaurateurs’. For her part, Mel was a trained barista having learned the craft in a second job part-time position with Silver Cup Coffee in Seattle.
So it came to pass, in their search for a suitable coffee house location that they happened upon a Craigslist listing for a coffee house for sale in Rockford – Epic Coffee House – on Main Street in the very center of downtown Rockford.
They then embarked on a “field trip” to Rockford, gave the City a thorough “look-see” and fell in love with what they saw. “Why build a coffee house in Newaygo when what we were looking for was right here in Rockford,” said Mel. “So we entered into negotations with Epic’s owner, Sarah Reamon, and as of December 1st, here we are!”
“Location is everything,” said Joel, adding, “we are thrilled to be right in the thick of things, in the very center of the downtown Rockford shopping district. The location offers direct Main Street access to the thousands of visitors who annually attend the many festivals and events hosted by the City of Rockford and its Chamber of Commerce. It also doesn’t hurt that the coffee house is a stone’s throw away, as we’ve quickly learned, from America’s Favorite Farm Market.”
The Pritchett’s told us they love the warm and inviting interior of the coffee house with its wood floors and rustic brick walls that harken back to the days when the store front was the town’s hardware store. An added plus was the fact that Epic also has a customer entrance at its rear off the Squire’s St. parking lot between Rockford’s Welcome Center and the Rotary Pavilion. Best of all, Epic’s city center location places it within easy walking or biking distance from surrounding residential neighborhoods.
In order to staff the seven-day early morning to late evening work schedule, the couple plans to retain Epic’s current baristas Matt, Cheyenne, and Kate while also working hands-on themselves. Daughter Taylor (16) will learn barista skills from Mom and soon find herself behind the counter during Sunday business hours.
Epic is proud to serve the coffees and teas of Grand Rapids Ferris Coffee Company, an importer and roaster of fine coffees for over three-quarters of a century (since 1924). The light fare menu will be tweaked and added to. Also on the horizon is the addition of breakfast selections. “As much as possible, our goal is to create every item on the menu from scratch while using locally sourced ingredients,” said Mel.
Epic is adding extensively to an already offered exclusive line of handcrafted Polish pottery. In keeping with a Pure Michigan theme and new to Epic are the popular offerings of Traverse City’s Cherry Republic.
If you aren’t already a regular, stop in and check out Veteran-owned Epic Coffee House, Rockford’s only traditional and authentic coffee house. Located at 9 N. Main St., Epic Coffee House offers free and newly upgraded high-speed wireless internet access to all of its patrons. Live music is on the menu every Friday evening from 7-9 p.m.
For further information go to Epic’s website at www.epiccoffeehouse.com or www.facebook.com/epiccoffee.