They've already begun gathering a loyal customer base and it's only been a week. Greengos Cafe opened its doors last week after months of renovation and preparation.
The intimate cafe in Grosse Pointe Park offers hand-ground wheatgrass shots, juices, smoothies, coffees and teas. There are also lots of edibles, such as egg souffles, tamales, and a daily brown rice dish. It's all fresh, made-from-scratch food.
Greengos Cafe, 15104 Kercheval Ave., is focused on using local foods and local resources for its supplies and even its decorating. Co-owner James Folden said that in the coming week, the cafe will install benches for diners at the windows that are being made from downed elm trees on Windmill Pointe.
Folden and co-owner Michell Danel are aiming to serve populations with special dietary needs or desires, including gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, they said. The couple, who shared their passion for sustainable, local foods on one of their first dates, is also aiming to be as environmentally friendly as possible. In two weeks, they've only had one bag of trash, Folden said, noting the remainder of "waste" was reused or recycled.
"We want the freshest possible everything," Folden said, noting the idea of going from "field to fork" with their menu. Rather than purchasing gluten-free breads, for example, they are making it from the basic ingredients, he said.
The couple grows their own sprouts and wheatgrass in a small backroom off an office/kitchen area. They also have a dehydrator to help take the foods from their original state to a dried state.
The couple lives half a block from their cafe and Folden described it as living his dream. They underestimated how many people would want gluten-free and wheatgrass, he said, noting the gratitude he has for their newborn success.
"There are so many underground foodies in the Park. ... We want to bring the right amount of diversity without competing with others," he said, noting the as the closest similar but different business.
The couple first met while working during one of the Park's Saturday West Park Farmers Market on Kercheval Avenue, Folden said. He had already been maintaining an urban garden near his Detroit home, and on their first date they made 20 quarts of strawberry jam, he said.
Danel, meanwhile, has a deep interest in ancient food techniques.
The idea to open a cafe wasn't their original plan for their location on Kercheval Avenue. They had leased the building with the idea of catering with similar foods but city officials preferred they have a storefront open to the public, Folden said. Folden said early Friday the couple planned to do catering for one year and then open their doors as a cafe.
In the end, they are thrilled the city forced their hand, Folden said, noting that several city officials went out of their way to help the business get off the ground. He repeatedly had to take breaks from the conversation to help customers, each of whom have been stopping in almost daily since Greengos opened nearly two weeks ago.
"I absolutely wouldn't change a thing," Folden said, noting the support and great reception by neighboring businesses as well as neighborhood residents.
They offer the "flexible factor" by giving customers a variety of options, Folden said. "We are a 'flexitarian' restaurant," he said.
Greengos' owners said they try to support other local businesses. For example, they spent approximately 40 percent of their remodeling budget at Pointe Lumber, Folden said. The area's businesses have been "amazingly supportive. They've all gone out of their way," he said.
Hours are 6 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesdays, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
By summer, Folden said, they aim to be open every day of the week until 11 p.m. Folden, Danel and Danel's brother are the sole employees at the moment, and Folden said they would like to bring on another person, but he or she must be the right fit with the right mindset.
"It's definitely a different environment," Folden said.