• Kate Rose

Rose + Fern Café: A Dream Come True

We sat down with Becky Tranchell, the owner of Rose + Fern Cafe, to talk about making her culinary dream happen.

1) How did the idea for Rose + Fern Cafe come about?

I’ve always wanted to open a cafe and I walked into Potter’s Bakery one day in my chef’s uniform and I laid it all out. I said I’d been doing this for 10 years, I’ve consulted for other restaurants, I’ve been watching this space and I even had the name because we’re near Rose and Fern streets. The owner, Mike Potter, called me back an hour later and said, “I guess we should talk!” Potter’s had covered baked goods and treats, so I told him my vision to do savory breakfast and coffee. My friend had been roasting coffee at home, so we partnered up to bring his roasts to customers. Potter’s were struggling with what to do with the space and they took a chance on me, first through a pop-up window and now to a fully fledged cafe.

2) What’s been critical to getting started?

Potter’s helped my startup by paying me an hourly rate to run their deli and they didn’t charge me any rent to start. We’ve brought them more revenue as a result of reimagining the menu.. The SBDC was instrumental to getting my business plan together and my loan from Venture North just came through 2 weeks ago. We’re using that to install the kitchen and espresso bar (espresso machine, brewer, grinders), leasehold improvements, and buying our first stock of inventory.

"Traditional banks weren’t going to fund me. I always wanted to open a cafe, but I’m a 30 year old single woman who doesn’t own a home and  I didn’t have many of the things that make opening a business possible. So, I was running into a lot of walls with rent being crazy out of my means. I heard about Venture North and they really made this possible. I can’t believe they gave me the loan!"

3) What can people expect from Rose + Fern?

I love serving breakfast because it’s not as uptight. People come right out of bed, they’re a bit ruffled and there’s something real and personal about it.  I’m really blessed because there are four students I taught before that are all going to be employees here. I’m trying to encourage them to really own it. I don’t want to be the one making final decisions on everything all the time. For example, one of my new employees works at Poppycocks and she’s a forager and a beer brewer. I want her to design a new menu item or coffee drink. At the end of the day, it’s mine to share. And I want to do monthly dinners. Pick a cuisine or give young cooks in the community trying to find their spot be a place where they can come in and do their thing. This area is the last affordable neighborhood in Traverse, so there’s a ton of young people and families, a new demographic that are looking for something within walking distance.

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