Lauren “LoLo” Williams and her fiancé, Benjamin “Bee” Paul, opened LoLobee’s Lounge
coffee shop on Bay City’s West Side, quickly becoming a hang-out for friends, artists, musicians, and gamers.
Williams says she’s wanted to own a coffee shop for years, but only started seriously looking about three years ago. She re-located to Bay City from New Orleans to be near her fiancé, and wanted to bring a little of her home with her. In New Orleans, coffee isn’t just for waking up in the morning.
The pair spent several months looking for the perfect location in early 2020, but “then, wouldn’t you know, the funniest thing happened,” says Paul.
LoLoBee's Lounge lights up Linn Street, just a short walk from Midland Streets eateries and bars.
The pandemic slowed their search, but after looking at nearly 30 locations, they landed at 106 S. Linn St., just south of Midland Street.
While they were looking, they connected with developer Robert Kennedy, who owns the building and was making renovations. It had been vacant for decades and needed a lot of upgrades, including windows and a new ceiling.
Owner Lauren Williams brought her aunt's piano from New Orleans to the lounge. Williams moved here from New Orleans and has filled the lounge with decor resminiscent of her home.
What Kennedy created in the space turned out to be just what the couple were seeking.
What they were looking for was a place that had an evening coffee vibe with a lounge hangout. The space fits the bill. The interior walls are natural brick, and Williams added décor reminiscent of her home in New Orleans. She even brought a piano that was once her aunt’s.
Open from noon to midnight, Paul says the idea is to be an alternative for after dinner.
“After 6 o’clock there’s only bars,” he says. Williams adds that in New Orleans “it’s really popular to have something to do after you do your something. You go out with friends somewhere, and then you go get a cup of coffee.”
With a lounge atmosphere and evening hours, Williams and Paul say they’ve had people ask about reading poetry, teaching painting classes, and hosting Dungeons & Dragons meetings there. In November, a narrator’s club will be holding its meetings there.
“Sage Library is holding a book club
meeting here,” Williams says. “We just want people to hang out and we’ve got plenty of space for them to do that.”
In the corner next to the piano, there’s a performance space set up for whoever wants to use it.
Coffee brews, tea, hot chocolate, and cream soda fill the menu. One popular item is a Vietnamese-inspired iced coffee.
“We’ve had musicians and bands come in and play,” Williams says.
The couple also is open to hosting community events.
The menu is limited to a few brews, tea, hot chocolate, and cream soda, but one popular items is a Vietnamese-inspired iced coffee that Williams created. She warns patrons that it’s quite potent.
“People have asked for a double, but then they realize how strong it is.”
The drink calls for strong coffee steeped over sweetened condensed milk. She says the caffeine sneaks up and hits you at the end.
Find out what’s happening in the coffee shop by following it on Facebook