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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

URBAN BEAN CO.

In the near future, Josh Greenwood, owner of Urban Bean Co., sees Capitol Park as a prosperous location , and you can't help but share his cautious, but readily apparent optimism on the issue. Located at Grand River and Griswold, Urban Bean Co.'s huge windows overlook Capitol Park in all of its glory, which as of right now, isn't much. In 2001, the downtown Detroit bus center was moved to Capitol Park after the former center was torn down to make way for the Campus Martius Park. Along with the temporary relocation of the bus center came masses waiting for their rides, homeless people looking for a place to stay, derelicts looking for a quick fix.

Yet, while Capitol Park's glory doesn't add up to much these days, Greenwood is depending on the area making a complete turnaround once the new Rosa Parks Transit Center opens a few blocks away, supposedly in September 2008. This turnaround will be aided by the long awaited redevelopment of the Book Cadillac Hotel. The hope is that along with the Book Cadillac, entrepreneurs like Greenwood will jump at the opportunity for successful business ventures in the area, whether it be lofts, stores, or restaurants.

With regard to the actual substance of Urban Bean Co., the place jumps out at you the minute you see it. Its bright orange exterior is of complete contrast to the gloomy exterior of Capitol Park. Its design and color scheme invites foot traffic inside, which there will hopefully be more of in September.

Once inside, Josh is the first to greet you from behind the barista counter. I'm pretty sure it's a one man operation at this point, so for a while at least, Josh is always going to be behind the counter. I talked to Josh for ten minutes and I already had judgments about his personality (which apparently, or at least I've been told, is not a healthy way to interact with people). Josh is my kind of guy. He was outwardly cynical, but behind the exterior, an opportunistic and optimistic side continually sneaked through, letting you know that there is more of him to be recognized than what he initially presents. You can tell the guy has pride in his store and believes in what he's doing.

The inside of the store is a combination of bright orange and yellow. The darkest color in the place was that of the black cat roaming around inside. On the main floor, more bar stools would be nice. but in the meantime, you can stand at the barista bar, or at the tables in front, while looking out at Capitol Park through the huge ceiling to floor windows.

The upstairs has multiple tables and places to sit within every corner. It's a small upstairs, but there's enough room for close to 15 people to comfortably hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee. Additionally, what makes this a hipper coffee shop than most, is that their are open turntables upstairs. Josh schedules known DJs when available, but he also has open turntable slots for unknown DJs trying to improve their craft and make a name for themselves.

As for the actual product, there are plenty of drink options including your normal espresso drinks, soda, Vitamin Water, Arizona Iced Tea, Gatorade, Crush, Red Bull, smoothies, and Frappuccinos. Snacks are available including muffins, bagels and pastries. He also has antacids, cigarettes, aspirin and cigars. For that matter, smoking is pretty much allowed throughout, and while I don't know if that's even legal, it adds to the ambiance.

When I was there, I got a double latte, which was fine, but to me, the place isn't about the drinks or the food. Urban Bean Co. is a place to hang out downtown, drink some caffeine, and possibly drum up a conversation that you wouldn't have normally had. Whether you do that while reading a book, doing some light work, or listening to someone spin on the upstairs turntables is up to you.

When Capitol Park cleans up, Urban Bean Co. is going to be sitting in a prime location, and instead of hearing bums asking for a quarter from across the street, hopefully, you'll be able to hear Josh Greenwood laughing all the way to the bank.

Below are photos of the scene at Urban Bean Co. and a link to the complete flickr set:


Main Barista Counter

Front of the Bar

Looking Out Onto Griswold

Heading Upstairs

Upstairs-Turntables Towards the Far End

Upstairs

The Intersection-Seen Through the Upstairs Windows

Complete Flickr Set At: Complete Urban Bean Co. Flickr Set

Urban Bean Co. is located at:
200 Grand River Ave.
Detroit, MI
48226
313-962-9898
Website: www.myspace.com/urbanbeanco
Normal Hours: 7:00 a.m. -10:00 p.m. weekdays, and 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. weekends.
Detroit Army

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