Young entrepreneurs: Owner of Clare’s 500 District proves age is no barrier to success

At 19 years old, many young adults are off at college or pursuing a trade; however, that wasn’t the path Morgan Humphrey took. When she was 19, she became a business owner by reopening an old coffee shop in her hometown of Clare, Michigan.


Now, nearly four years later, Humphrey is 23 and owns three businesses.

Four years after starting her entrepreneurial journey, 23-year-old Morgan Humphrey owns 3 businesses.


“We opened because we saw the need in Clare for a little restaurant or eatery,” says Humphrey. “After a year of success with that, we opened the place next door, which is the Venue at 501, and that’s a place for weddings and events. After doing that for about a year, we saw a need for a place for people to stay and bride and grooms to get ready, and we added the Upper Rooms.”


Humphrey says she has had an entrepreneurial spirit from a very young age, and even owned a cleaning business when she was younger. However, her journey to owning these three businesses – together called the 500 District – began with a conversation with her grandma, who owned the buildings.


“We just had two empty buildings and Morgan came down, she was 19 years old, and she said she’d like to try the café,” says Judy Kleinhardt, Humphrey’s grandma. “I thought it’d last about three months; and, now this Christmas it’ll be four years.”


The cafe originally opened in 2015 as Heart of Michigan Café, but was rebranded in July, 2019 to 505 Café.

Morgan Humphrey opened 505 Cafe in 2015, originally under the name Heart of Michigan Cafe.

Today, Humphrey runs the 500 District with Kelsey Driessnack, who is the manager and makes all of the fresh delicacies at 505 Cafe; and Samantha Walters, who is the office manager and mainly runs the Venue at 501.
From left to right: Samantha Walters, Morgan Humphrey, and Kelsey Driessnack. Together, they manage the three businesses that make up the 500 District, owned by Morgan Humphrey.

Like many entrepreneurs, Humphrey has faced a variety of obstacles; however, she has had one major obstacle to overcome during her entrepreneurial journey: her age.


“People don’t take us seriously because we’re young,” she says.


Once the community saw her business stay around for a second, third, and now fourth year – and continue to grow each year – they became more aware that she is a responsible and reliable business owner, she explains. Additionally, they have seen the benefits her business brings – especially now that the Venue at 501 frequently hosts weddings, which brings people to town.


“Everyone is being supportive because it’s been a wave effect for the community and they’re loving it,” Humphrey says.


Reflecting on how much Humphrey has achieved in four short years, her grandma says, “I don’t know another person that could do what she did.”


Now that the community has seen her success, Humphrey says she hopes they will continue to be supportive of young entrepreneurs in the future, and that seasoned business owners will take new business owners under their wings to pass on their knowledge.


“They have experience and they’re wise, so any advice they have that they can give will help us,” Humphrey says. “We’re the next generation; and, if they were successful, hopefully we can be successful too for their kids and grandkids to come.”

As young entrepreneurs build local businesses, this 3-part series explores the challenges they face, the gaps their businesses fill, and what draws them to this community.

Read part 1 - Young entrepreneurs: CMU instructor balances work and family opening Mt. Pleasant School of Dance

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