Today I went to the Daily Grind, a local coffeehouse, for the last time ever. I may be back for coffee, but it will have a different name, a different owner, a different feel. I’m sure it will be good. But it won’t be the same.
I was 24, single, and new to Elkhart when I started working at the Grind. I had spent the previous 2 years living alone in a rural area 600 miles from home, friends, and family. I was lonely and a little lost, wondering what would come next in my life. I applied to work at the coffee shop because it seemed “fun,” which is common. I was a little disappointed when they asked me to interview at their 2nd location, affectionately called the “Baby Grind.” I wanted to work at the artsy downtown location. The Baby Grind was a little more suburban – a place where moms and high school students stopped for lattes before school, and smoothies between evening activities. But I took the job anyway, and it turned out to be one of the most pivotal decisions I’ve ever made.
The owner, Tanya, is such a beautiful person. She made everyone who walked through the doors feel like family. The driving force of her life is to love people, and she does so with every fiber of her being. She and I share the same birthday. She’s a few years older than me though, and she became like a big sister to me. When I was just starting out in the world of step-parenting she had already had some experience, and some advice and wisdom to offer. I will never forget her support and her care.
Joan, the manager, was like a mother to the staff there. She loved her job and she loved us. She was a listening ear and a kind and caring soul. She taught me so much about food. She introduced me to foods I’d never had before like potato leek soup (sounds basic I know, but I had never heard of leeks). And she got me to like fish, which was no small feat. I hated fish all my life until I tried her salmon cakes. She was a true food artist, and I credit her for anything I successfully cook now. Though I don’t see her much anymore, I think of her often.
One of my co-workers invited me to visit his church. I was reluctant. Tired of the same-old-same-old I had found in many churches, I was taking a break from church and hadn’t been to any in about a year. But I did go. And 12 years later, I’m still going. I met my husband there as well as my best friends and some of my favorite people. If it weren’t for my job at the Grind, my life might be so completely different right now.
The Grind, and the people I met there – Tanya, Joan, and many others – saw me through a time of great transition in my life. From being single and alone to making friends, finding a place in the community, finding a church family, to getting married, becoming a step-mom, a mom, and then eventually a stay-at-home mom. After my second (biological) daughter was born I cut back to working only Saturdays, and then only every other Saturday for the last few months. After almost 6 years of serving coffee to the community I decided to stay home full time with my young family. But I never stopped being part of the Daily Grind family. The Baby Grind closed. Different people came and went from the staff. But I could never drink any other coffee again. For the last eight years I have done my best to support the Grind, even though it wasn’t much. I couldn’t afford to buy lunch and lattes or even cups of coffee every day, but I have never stopped buying bulk coffee beans from them so I could enjoy Daily Grind coffee every morning from home.
I’m so excited for Tanya and what her future has in store. I’m sad to see such a special place disappearing from the community. But most of all I’m so very thankful for the Grind, for the place it had in my life, and for the people I met while working there.