In the pantheon of third places—businesses where the community to congregate for any and all reasons (or none at all)—there are two types of establishments that stand head and shoulders about the rest: cafes and barber shops/beauty parlors (and/or salons, if that is your preferred nomenclature). While their primary purposes are dissimilar—a fresh cup versus a fresh cut—these two hallowed human gathering places have long been heralded throughout the course of history as focal points around which broad swaths of the population can coalesce. Naturally, then, what better place to open a cafe than in a barber shop? And that’s exactly what Houston White is doing in Minneapolis.
In the next evolution of Houston White Men’s Room (HWMR), a barber shop and apparel brand based in the Camdentown neighborhood of North Minneapolis, White is opening The Get Down Coffee Company, a full-service cafe and roastery that will operate as a sibling company to Dogwood Coffee Roasters. Now White has taken to IndieGoGo to help bring The Get Down to life.
The idea for The Get Down has been brewing for five years now, when on a trip to New York City White got a firsthand experience at the nuance present in coffee as well as the cafe’s ability to bring people together. Wanting to bring this experience back home to North Minneapolis, White began reaching out to local coffee companies to find a mentor to help in this endeavor, only to be discouraged by people in the coffee community he met. Until he met Dan Anderson of Dogwood. “Dan was literally my last call because I was ready to give up,” White tells Sprudge. Anderson was at the time working on the build-out for Dogwood’s St. Paul location and invited White to come out to experience the process for himself.
Fast forward five years, and Dogwood and The Get Down are “sibling companies,” with Dogwood offering up their expertise and roasting space to The Get Down while the brand gains its footing. Beyond just a mentor/mentee relationship, though, the effort between the two brands is collaborative. “It’s cultural collision,” White states. “Human connection is the most powerful force in nature. My goal is that we will always grow together.”
For White, The Get Down is more than just adding coffee to the HWM family: it’s a way to build new connections. “For me, Coffee equals community, it’s the morning happy hour,” White tells me. “[The Get Down] is a new way to see specialty coffee, to see it in a new context, and it excites the fuck out of me.”
White and team are currently still building roast profiles and overall brand design but are expecting to have everything ready for online retails sales some time before Thanksgiving 2020. The cafe aspect will then be completed some six months after, around May of 2021.
“I can’t wait to hold the bag, to actually hold the packaging that’s developed, that holds the contents in it, sitting on the shelf, turning an idea that is the result of a four-plus year relationship turn into a physical thing.”
To help with the build-out of the new cafe space, White has taken to IndieGoGo to raise $50,000, which will go toward equipment and construction costs. Would-be backers have a host of different campaign rewards to choose from, from hats to mugs, haircuts to roasted coffee.
For more information on The Get Down Coffee Company or to back the campaign, visit their IndieGoGo page.
Photos courtesy of Houston White unless otherwise noted.