I have to admit that this phrase did not come from me. It came from a former Roots Brew Crew member. It really struck me and perfectly described what we are trying to do at Roots. I’ve used it ever since. Our world is so product-driven that it’s hard to see authentic relationships through the transactional fog. There is a movement to push out the human encounter from most elements of life. Some say it is because humans are less efficient and flawed. Yup, that’s true. No denial from me on that. However, what are we but humans who desire human connection and belonging? We thirst for that. That’s what we offer people at Roots alongside their coffee, bagel, and waffle. We want to remind people that the first and most important part of our interaction is that they are a person deserving of dignity. We don’t always do that perfectly (because we’re human haha) but it’s what we strive toward. Thank you for giving us five years and counting to do that!


It probably is no shock that my favorite thing about Roots are you all, the people. Don’t get me wrong I REALLY enjoy our coffee (thank you Roots Coffee Co), our bagels (thank you Nantucket Baking), and our waffles (thank you whoever is on duty to make them). But the thing I love the most are the people that make Roots what it is. Our staff has had ebb and flow over the last five years but it has been an honor to work with all of them. Truly. The people I have had the privilege of meeting who have patronized Roots make it all worth it. Someone (you know who you are) asked me once how long I have stayed away from Roots while still being in Grand Rapids. My answer was one day. One day. My reason being that I would miss being around the people at Roots too much to stay away any longer. I know I said we create a place of belonging for the community but it goes both ways. You all have created a place of belonging for me as well. For that I am forever grateful. 


We get a large variety of comments about our space and style. We created Roots as it is on purpose with its mismatched furniture, natural fibers and elements, mixed dishes, and color scheme. (Once someone was trying to sell me new dishes to help “clean up the hot mess we have going on” without knowing they were speaking to the owner or any knowledge of why we have the dishes we do. I got a real good laugh from that.) Roots is meant to be a welcoming space for everyone. People often say Roots feels like home or a friend’s home. What a compliment! We created a space where new life is brought to discarded things. All people are unique and we want our shop to reflect that same uniqueness. There is something comforting being in an imperfect place. It reminds me there isn’t a need for me to be perfect either, simply present. 


Dang, this is the biggest lesson I have learned over the last five years! Life is filled with so many unexpected things. The life of a business owner is no different. I have learned how so many things work; insurance, taxes, contracts, plumbing, human interaction, weather, IT things, police reports, and more. The best thing to do is roll with it. Cultivating a place that remembers the human element of life makes this easier, but every new crazy thing is a stark reminder. We had the snowpocalypse a few years ago when I had to close for a few days because ALL the roads were blocked with mountains of snow. We had power outages and internet outages. Most recently a global pandemic where things were always in flux and no one knew what to do. If I wasn’t ready to roll with it I would crumble. This isn’t to say I never broke down and cried in my office or at home on the couch, it just made those moments less frequent and easier to handle. I learned to take a deep breath, let out the tears, and then roll with the waves toward the solution. Woof, that lesson was hard to learn but it has helped immensely in my life and I hope I never forget it. 


This might seem like a strange one but it’s important. My mom asked me why I call it our birthday when we’re a business. The answer rests in the knowledge that Roots was born more than it was founded. Roots was an idea born from a vision and a dream. It was born into this world for others, not for me. Roots belongs to the community that loves it and supports it. Over the years it has been home to so many different people doing great and amazing things with their lives. Big life moments have happened at Roots for many people. It’s a refuge for some and an office for others. It is many different things for just as many different people. This is why I say we celebrate birthdays rather than anniversaries. Life happens here and life is marked by birthdays. Thanks for helping us make it to 5 years, here’s to many more!