No easy task

Road to open Iron Works Cafe not always smooth, but ‘worth the wait’

MANISTEE — Aside from some last-minute needs, the Iron Works Cafe is nearly ready to open its doors.

Some items weren’t considered in the original planning process of the 32-seat, nonprofit restaurant.

Monetary donations are needed for the final touches, such as a sign, bar stools, photo frames, shelving, restroom decor and mirrors, said Kelly Greve, Manistee Community Kitchen board member.

The community kitchen began work toward the cafe with a kickstarter campaign in May 2013.

A fundraising goal of $65,000 was set, and it was met in September 2014.

However, leadership says more is needed for odds-and-ends to get the cafe running.

“The whole project was under-budgeted; we had no idea how much it would cost. Nothing has been easy, nothing has gone the way it was supposed to have gone,” Greve said. “As soon as we can be open, we will be. Once it’s opened, this will be a self-sustaining facility. It will be well worth the wait.”

There is no opening date. But the board is optimistic.

“I have been waiting for this moment, and am so thankful to our community for its patience and great support in making this gathering place a reality,” said Brandon Seng, founder of the Manistee Community Kitchen who started the cafe project. “There are no words to describe the joy I feel from the outpouring of community support.”

Final inspections for fire safety and health are expected in the next week or so. Plumbing and electric have already been approved.

Early this month, a group worked on the menu, which will include breakfast and lunch options. Menu items will feature locally grown fruit and vegetables, and other local items.

The cafe will also be available for cooking classes and private functions.

“We intend to develop the cafe into a welcoming place for the community to gather, and we look forward to this process,” said Ann Sinclair, Manistee Community Kitchen board chair.

Board member Sally Somsel said she hopes the cafe will become a community center where people can learn to cook the way grandma did.

Last week, volunteers and board members worked on some finishing touches. They put up trim, baseboards and sanded walls.

A deep cleaning session is scheduled for Saturday.

“This is an all-volunteer operation (so far),” Somsel said. “We all care about the community, and want to make the community a better place for everybody.”

The first job opening for the cafe has been posted with Michigan Works!. There is a need for a chef/manager.

“We are excited to attract local talent to assist in building the cafe’s reputation as a great place to meet and share great food,” Greve said.

To keep up with the cafe, visit or like the Manistee Community Kitchen’s Facebook page.

To volunteer for the upcoming cleaning day, contact Greve at (231) 887-4581.


Posted by Justine McGuire

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