Royal Oak’s The Office Coffee Shop caters to professionals.
By Matthew Totsky
Photography by Brett Mountain
Chances are if you walk into any coffee shop on the planet, you’re guaranteed to see people at work. Whether they’re students cramming for an exam or a would-be author putting the finishing touches on his next great novel, coffee shops have transcended the idea of a simple gathering place to become more of a breeding ground for creativity and getting things done.
Mike Keith, a co-owner at The Office Coffee Shop, picked up on that idea, but gave it a twist: What if there was a coffee shop dedicated to professionals and small companies looking for a space to work and grow their businesses?
After searching for the perfect site for his business venture, Keith settled on a 2,700-square-foot former gym on the corner of Fourth Street and Lafayette Avenue in downtown Royal Oak.
“I work as an engineering consultant and have traveled a lot in my career,” Keith says. “I’ve sat in a lot of meetings and worked off- site. I’ve always felt I was more productive in a coffee shop as I was finishing my day. The more I traveled, the more it became evident that most people in coffee shops felt the same way, too.”
Keith, along with his wife, Brooke, and their business partner, Kortnee Kochanowski, had the idea to create a truly shared workspace market. But, unlike other co-working spaces where freelancers have to be a member and pay a monthly fee to come and work, The Office offers a traditional coffee shop experience augmented with the services needed to run an actual business.
“The other co-working spaces I’ve seen lacked the coffee shop vibe,” Keith says. “They didn’t have that buzz. We wanted to create a place where people could collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other, but we also offer a more private working environment as opposed to other coffee shops.
“For example, when I was traveling I had to go to my car to do a conference call. We offer private rooms so people can conduct their business without having to shut down and relocate.”
All of the tables at The Office are large and designed for at least two people to work comfortably with computers, notepads and a plate for something to eat.
“It’s a workstation as opposed to other shops that have two-top tables,” Keith says. “Power is everywhere and extension cords are everywhere. We have a printer and a scanner and fax available for customers as well as two TVs. One has news and the other is available for presentations.”
The clientele at The Office are mainly professionals and include people from the IT industry, website and social media experts, filmmakers, fashion designers and several business coaches. Many are meeting someone in a neutral space in one of the three private offices available for rent at The Office.
“We also have a space called the Garage that can hold 20 people,” Keith says. “It can be used for anything from yoga classes to quarterly off-site business meetings and product demonstrations.
“People tend to be more creative in off-site meetings,” Keith continues. “The power of the off-site meeting is more creativity and fewer distractions. It’s more fun to get out of the usual workplace so people can be more productive.”
Keith still works for Synergy Consulting Engineers out of Grand Rapids but is pleased with the success of The Office since it opened its doors in June 2015.
“If I can find a way to help someone become successful by utilizing our space, I’ll do it,” he says. “I’m in the business to provide a platform for others to grow their businesses. I go to a lot of networking classes and chamber meetings. I meet and talk to people to find out if their business would be a good fit for our business. So far, it’s been great.”
One of the founding goals of The Office Coffee Shop is to give back to the local community. “All sales pay it forward by giving back 5 percent to one of four charities: Forgotten Harvest, Water.org, Wigs for Kids and Team Joseph,” Keith says. “My wife, Brooke, was very passionate that we focus on philanthropy. We’re fortunate people and we work hard, but no matter how busy we are, we still want to give back every day instead of just doing it once a year. To us, it’s part of life instead of an occasional effort.” NS
The Office Coffee Shop
402 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak