Coffee anyone? Water Street Coffee Joint opens new location on Harrison St. in downtown Kalamazoo

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Northside series. f you have a story about the neighborhood please let us know here.

Efforts to develop and redevelop properties in Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood got a fresh-roasted jolt recently with the opening of the sixth location of the Water Street Coffee Joint.
At 527 Harrison St., just north and east of downtown Kalamazoo, the business puts back into use a location that had been home to MacKenzie’s Bakery. The 40-year-old family-owned bakery closed retail locations on West Main Street and on Harrison Street in late 2020.
The new Water Street Coffee Joint location at 527 Harrison St. is a .modern space intended to serve commuters with its drive-thru window or inside at their bright and welcoming take-out counter.“It’s a nice addition to the neighborhood,” says Mattie Jordan-Woods, executive director of the Northside Association for Community Development. “It shows that the neighborhood is coming back.”
The association has been working hard to develop affordable housing in western portions of the neighborhood, which includes plans to build 21 houses on what is now vacant property on North Church Street, Frank Street, and Ransom Street. The Water Street Coffee Joint location is located on the eastern side of the neighborhood, in what is called the River's Edge District. It has seen a fair amount of commercial development in recent years, including Harrison Circle Apartments, an 80-unit, $18 million residential/commercial building that was opened in August of 2021.
The Northside Neighborhood is bordered by Douglas Avenue on the west, Willard Street and the railroad tracks on the south, the Kalamazoo River on the east, and the northern city limits on the north.
The new Water Street Coffee Joint is a modern space, just south of the Harrison Circle Apartments. It is the fourth Water Street location with a drive-thru window and, according to information provided by owner Mark Smutek, it is intended to serve commuters and handle walk-in customers on a take-out basis. That was not an option at Water Street Coffee Joint’s small flagship location, about a half-mile to the south and west at 315 E. Water St.
“Although this new café does not contain indoor or outdoor seating, once inside, you are greeted by their beautifully designed take-out counter with vibrantly painted, hand-cut cedar shingles that subtly reflect the shape of ice cream cones,” the company states in a press release.
Along with coffee lattes, brewed coffee,  smoothies and other items, . Water Street Coffee Joints has a new selection of house-made ice creams and sorbets served by the scoop.Opened on Aug. 31, the Harrison Street shop serves brewed coffee, coffee lattes, loose-leaf tea, shakes, and smoothies. It has a seasonal menu that includes breakfast sandwiches, artisan sandwiches, salads, burritos, scones, muffins, and desserts. And it also serves house-made ice creams and sorbets.
The location has allowed the 29-year-old business to relocate its commissary kitchen back to downtown Kalamazoo after having its hand-made foods prepared for the past 10 years at a facility west of Kalamazoo on Elm Valley Drive.
All of the company’s coffees are roasted in-house and menu selections use local produce.
Business hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. More information is available here
“Yes, I think it’s a good thing for the neighborhood,” Jordan-Woods says. “It shows that people are ready to invest in the neighborhood.”
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Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.