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Ken Barry speaks at Gary Redevelopment Commission

What downtown Gary needs is a coffee shop

Contributed By:The 411 News

Proposal seeks permission to use the city’s Metro Center

Downtown Gary needs a coffee shop and the ideal place is in the city’s Metro Center.

That was Ken Barry’s proposal at Wednesday’s meeting of the Gary Redevelopment Commission.

Barry, director of the City Life Center at Bethel Church in downtown Gary said Innovation Suite or Café IS will attract foot traffic and thousands of daily commuters using bus and rail transportation services provided at the Metro Center by Greyhound, Gary Public Transit, and the South Shore.

Bethel Church is housed in the former John Will Anderson Boys & Girls Club on west Fifth Avenue, across the street from the Metro Center. City Life Center continues the focus of the Boys & Girls Club, providing summer and afterschool activities for school age children. Barry once headed Gary’s Youth Services Bureau.

Café IS would occupy the Metro Center’s unused 2nd floor bar and restaurant. The Redevelopment Commission manages the Metro Center and is making updates to the building’s interior.

Barry said the café would operate as a non-profit. Café IS has received a $25,000 Legacy Foundation grant. Renovations to the café’s interior will be handled by volunteer donations, he said.

The café has been offered major support from Spill the Beans Gourmet Coffee in Merrillville. “Spill the Beans will teach us how to run the café. They will provide the initial coffee supplies and train our baristas,” Barry said.

Barry is seeking permission from the commission to operate the café in the Metro Center and “hopefully to give us some grace on the lease for a period of time as we move toward sustainability.”

An initial start date is summer 2018. “It’s a really cool space and it’s not in bad shape. But we won’t know really until we get in there and do an assessment. The plumbing needs to be checked out. I don’t know what changes have been made by the commission.”

Barry told the commission he would return in December with a business plan.

Story Posted:09/07/2017

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