Michigan runs on community. From our biggest and most industrial to our most rural, these communities drive our economy, build each other up, provide jobs and ultimately, make this state a great one to live in. I was reminded of the power of community when I began researching the Front Porch Cafe in Ellsworth.
In 2008, when even the most prosperous businesses were suffering, Ellsworth sadly said goodbye to the last restaurant left in town. Luckily, Bob Felton, a member of the Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church, had an enduring dream to provide a gathering place for the small town. In a time when no one could escape money troubles, Felton, along with the founding board, created a place where it was possible!
The breakfast and lunch menus, along with great coffee and desserts, of course, are purely donation based. The goal for the Front Porch Cafe was to bring people in, regardless of their circumstances. While the menu features recommended donation prices if you’re able, the idea of community fellowship took precedence over the importance of cash flow. Most of the staff works completely on a volunteer basis- every waitress, dishwasher, and busser is there because he or she wants to be!
Having just celebrated their fourth birthday this past Labor Day, you can imagine that the local response was a positive one.
The recent and upcoming fundraisers help keep the place up, and buy food and sponsor families in need. The next fundraiser is coming up on October 20th at the Ellsworth Town Hall- A comedic “roast” of former board president, John Hastings. Meat, beverages and dessert are provided but everything else is potluck! This particular event is adults only from 6pm onward and sounds like the perfect illustration of how far this struggling town has come since 2008. From the antique toasters to the tasty creations, the Front Porch Cafe is a mitten love story where community conquers all. Make sure you find their weekly menu on the Facebook page, or just stop in Monday through Saturday, between 7am and 2pm.
–Lyndsay Israel, Feature Writer