by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL When Rich and Michelle Zeck opened Frenz Coffee House in Rockford in July 2006, they had a dream of creating a place of community fellowship where everyone would feel welcome. They accomplished that goal and much more. But Friday evening, Feb. 4, more than 1,100 past customers on the coffee houses’ e-mail list received a message saying Frenz would cease to be in business as of 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, some two days later. In the message, the Zecks invited all to join with them in a bittersweet celebration of Frenz presence in Rockford during the past four-and-a-half years. How could this be? On the face of it, the business appeared to be quite successful, but appearances can be deceiving. So let us first dwell on all that was accomplished and achieved. From the very beginning the Zecks embraced the Rockford artistic community. Local artists and photographers were encouraged to display their creative works on the walls throughout the coffee house, providing a venue for exposure and a possible sale. Area groups soon found a welcoming place to hold regular gatherings. The Zecks even allowed and encouraged the groups to rearrange chairs and tables to their own liking. Eclectic groups, too numerous to mention, took advantage of the generous offer. We’ll name a few but not all: the Rockford Plein Air Artists, the after-class tai chi group, political and community town hall meetings, book clubs, and Bible study groups. Book-signings were also a regular occurrence. Of course, we can’t forget the Saturday morning gathering of coffee house “regulars” composed of many who had discovered Frenz soon after its opening. “Conversations were varied and lively and at oftentimes rowdy,” said longtime Rockford resident Ruthie Graves, 88. “At the beginning, we hardly knew one another but after all this time we’ve become the best of friends. Now, where will we go?” added Graves with a tear in her eye. Friday evenings, Frenz provided a place for musicians and singers just beginning the pursuit of their own dreams to perform, oftentimes, before full houses. “A lot of people who had their début at Frenz have gone on to great success and are now playing in downtown Grand Rapids clubs,” said […]
Frenz Coffee House
by Cliff and Nancy Hill Last Thursday afternoon, June 24, Rockford’s Frenz Coffee House hosted a “Meet and Greet” for Michigan House of Representative hopeful, Peter MacGregor. MacGregor, a Republican who is currently serving as Cannon Township Supervisor, is running for the term-limited 73rd District seat of Rep. Tom Pearce. The first hurdle in what will be an arduous campaign is that of being chosen by voters in the August 3 Primary Election. MacGregor is but one of nine vying to be the Republican candidate on the ballot in the important November 2 General Election. With so many hats in the ring, this primary will be very contentious and result in an extremely splintered vote. Every vote counts. Your single vote might well be the one that puts your choice over the top. At the Frenz gathering, with wife Chrissie at his side, MacGregor met with friends, supporters and others who just wanted to get a feel for the man and just what he stands for. Many in attendance that afternoon were members of the Friends of the White Pine Trail. MacGregor, it seems, is no stranger to the trail, having lost 57 pounds in the past year and a half by regularly jogging the Rockford section of the White Pine Trail (WPT). Fit and trim this afternoon he was joined by Rep. Tom Pearce along with Chairman Dave Heyboer and Kerry Kilpatrick from the “Friends.” Pearce had previously given his election endorsement to MacGregor and was present in a strong show of support for his friend. In addition to numerous endorsements from many quarters, MacGregor was pleased to announce that that very day he had received the endorsements of the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce PAC and the Michigan Farm Bureau. For the better part of two hours, questions were given to and answered by MacGregor. Judging from the smiles on the faces of those in attendance at the close of the meeting, all were pleased by what they had heard. For more information visit www.ElectPeterMacGregor.com.
by RICH ZECK Police officer and author Barry W. Ozeroff from Portland, Ore., pulled into Frenz Coffee House last week to sign copies of his latest book “The Dying of Mortimer Post.” The author is on a national book promotional tour that started in Oregon and goes to Ohio, down to Florida, then to San Diego and back home to Oregon—all in the month of May. Since coffee houses are a staple in the northwest, Ozeroff chose Frenz over a chain bookstore to promote this deeply insightful human journey of a man torn by life’s experiences. The book is about Mortimer Post, who is the quintessential late-‘60s American teenager. He is a college-bound physics major from a good family, engaged to his high-school sweetheart, and is at the forefront of his version of the American dream. Then, in 12 short minutes, he faces a loss so devastating it marks the end of his living and the beginning of his dying. But as the opening sentence suggests, some deaths are slower than others. Mortimer’s takes a lifetime to complete—a lifetime best described not as a series of unfortunate events, but a series of unbearable tragedies. Spanning four of America’s most significant decades, “The Dying of Mortimer Post” takes the reader from the protagonist’s coming of age in the Pocono Mountains to the massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. After the searing end of his military career, the reader accompanies Mortimer on a nationwide quest for understanding and healing. On this journey of discovery, he finds both happiness and sorrow in the backwoods of rural Mississippi, then a much darker side of himself on the unforgiving streets of Los Angeles. Only when he has lost everything and is finally ready for the release of death, does Mortimer discover that he already has the one thing he’s spent a lifetime seeking, and with it, the chance to finally live again. At once exciting, poignant and disturbing, “The Dying of Mortimer Post” is a stark exposé of a man torn by tragedy as he struggles to make sense of a senseless world. A true epic, it is part love story, war chronicle, police saga, and all tragedy. More than anything, it is a tale of redemption in a […]
Miracles—you bet they happen! Dear Editor, Last month, Frenz Coffee House came to a crossroads as to whether we would continue to exist. There were forces both seen and unseen that worked to undermine the business and push us toward being another sad statistic in this current economy. Don’t get me wrong, we were 100 percent responsible and accountable for the business, but some things were beyond our control. People who know us well enough know why we do what we do and that we don’t believe in this economy. The past winter had been exceptionally tough for the business and excessive debts had accumulated during that period. We shared our dilemma with a handful of close friends. They were not going to let Frenz go away without a fight and took on the HUGE task of organizing a benefit/fundraiser for Frenz in a very short period of time. Here’s the story: a handful of people, who know who they are, organized this event. In nine days they organized e-mails, a blog, contacted people and/or businesses for donations for a silent auction, and spent countless hours of their own time away from fun and family time to help Frenz. I know people are easily offended when you talk about things that make them uncomfortable or are not politically correct, but here’s more of the story. I don’t care if you are atheist, Christian, Muslim, or whatever flavor of religion, but what happened here was a miracle—plain and simple. What we witnessed was a community of strangers coming together for a common cause. This was not about Frenz, Michele or even me, but “something bigger” that people believe in and wanted to keep. Frenz has always been about you and not us. We believe our calling is to be servants who offer people a place of comfort, refuge and a place where you feel welcome. In nine days, we exceeded our goal of $10,000! We had over 100 items that we auctioned off, and overall the whole process was as smooth as can be. People came from all over the area. People we have never seen before, people who did not like coffee, and people who said their friends said they had to come and support […]
On Friday, June 12, at 7 p.m., Michael Lee will be performing at the Frenz Coffee House in the Promenade on Bridge St. in Rockford. Michael Lee is a singer-songwriter from the Boyne area of northern Michigan, whose vocal and lyrical style won him first place in the 2008 Mid North Michigan Blues Challenge in Traverse City. With original songs in folk, regional, rock and blues, you will find him an artistic entertainer. This solo concert is free of charge.