Kris Pena

Frenz Coffee House pours its last cup of Java

February 10, 2011 // 0 Comments

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 […]