We had the good fortune of connecting with Kendall Griffin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kendall, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
We impact our community and the city of Chicago at large by offering creative beverages and unique menu items.Our social impact is guided by our 4 charters:
Supporting living artist
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Kendall and I both started our career paths as automotive consultants with a focus on sales and marketing. We gained so much knowledge in the automotive field seeing the corporate side of things but then also working closely with our respective dealers and seeing various levels of small business within a corporate structure. We have been able to apply most of those learnings from our past careers and pair it with our own passions for coffee, food and people.
Opening a business is never easy but opening during a pandemic is quite possibly the most difficult thing either of us has ever done. We had to navigate building out a space at what we thought was the height of the pandemic and then when we opened more variants of the COVID-19 strain began developing so navigating the ever changing mandates was even more complicated which caused us to shut down all indoor dining just a month into opening. The mandates impacted business almost immediately and many of the grants and government assistance that was available was not available to new businesses; most of the grants you needed to years of tax returns and unfortunately we did not even have a month’s worth of revenue. So we had to drive business through our doors so we leaned into our sales and marketing backgrounds. We hosted events, musicians art really anything that we could to do to get people in the door.
We made a lot of mistakes along the way which have made for great lessons. We’ve learned that location is key, we’ve learned to align yourself with likeminded people and we’ve learned to follow our (4) brand pillars (1. Building Community, 2. Supporting Living Artists, 3. Maternal Health and Wellness and 4. Children’s Literacy) as our guiding light.
We want the world to know the Afro Joe’s is a brand that believes every neighborhood deserves a coffee shop and everyone who patronizes us deserves to be treated with respect. We are a brand that is authentically us and we treat everyone who comes through our door like we would a guest in our home. We want the world to know that you can always #comethroughforacup at Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would take them to some of our favorite restaurants: – Rosemary
– Milly’s Pizza in the Pan
– Soul & Smoke
– Luella’s Southern Kitchen
Chicago is a fun city with a beautiful downtown. We do not get out as much as we use to because we have 4 kids but we would definitely do dinner and drinks every night. Rosemary and Giant have some of the most amazing craft cocktails and Rosemary’s non alcoholic cocktails are amazing, they got me through my last pregnancy. We would hit up a Broadway play, do some shopping on the Magnificent Mile, visit the bean and take an architectural boat cruise.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wow, there are so many people who deserve credit for helping us get to where we are but the person we would like to shout out is my Uncle Michael he has supported us so much literally from the first day we opened. He has had his own business as an orthodontist for over 30 years and just having his knowledge and unwavering support throughout our journey has been unmatched and for that we are extremely grateful and he’s is most deserving of a shoutout!
Yelp: Afro Joe’s Coffee & Tea
Nicee Martin Bianca Garcia