The First Cup: Clay Township coffee shop gets new owner and new look

For more than two decades, owners Laura and Donald “Don” Peterson were the familiar faces behind the counter at Laura’s First Cup in Algonac, serving up coffee and company to patrons who became like family. Among them were Jacob “Jake” Skarbek and his parents who visited the coffee shop every morning since Skarbek’s childhood years.

On a recent cold January morning, Skarbek’s parents went to Laura’s First Cup for their usual morning coffee where Peterson shared that he was planning to sell the establishment. Since his wife died in 2018, Peterson has been running the cafe by himself and decided it was time.

Now 25 years old and working as a local real estate agent, Skarbek says he had been keeping his eye out for the perfect location to establish a coffee shop like Laura’s First Cup where he has many fond memories of spending time with his parents. When Peterson shared with Skarbek’s parents that he planned to sell, they immediately phoned him with the news and Skarbek wasted no time reaching out to Peterson to make an offer.

A display case showcases a few of the offerings available at The First Cup.

“This opportunity was literally just dropped in my lap at the perfect time,” Skarbek says.

Peterson accepted and Skarbek took over ownership of the establishment on Jan. 17. With the help of family and friends, Skarbek immediately began round-the-clock renovations to give the coffee shop a more up-to-date look which required a temporary closure. On Jan. 25, he reopened the establishment under its new name, The First Cup.

“There was a tremendous outpouring of support, including from Peterson,” Skarbek says.

Childhood photo of Jacob Skarbek helping attend a lemonade stand.
Skarbek says his entrepreneurial spirit stems from his childhood. From running a lemonade stand as a youngster, establishing lawn care and commercial cleaning companies, to eventually earning a real estate license and serving as a council member for the City of Algonac.

“I love anything business related and can talk about business and local politics in our community for hours; they go hand in hand,” Skarbek says.

For Skarbek, business and community are intertwined, and he sees The First Cup as a hub for both.

“Small businesses should give back to their local community,” Skarbek says, sharing his excitement about starting sponsorships for local athletic teams.

The First Cup is located at 5428 Pointe Tremble Rd. in Algonac, Michigan.

The First Cup recently introduced a selection of iced coffees and, in addition to its regular menu items featuring donuts and a variety of baked goods, Skarbek says he has plans to further expand these options soon with bagels, breakfast sandwiches, bowls, and burritos.

A few major transformations are also on the horizon for the establishment’s exterior. Plans are underway to modernize the facade and construct an outdoor patio capable of accommodating up to 40 patrons.

Skarbek says he hopes the coffee shop can be a gathering space for the community to come together to sit, do homework, socialize, hold small meetings, or just enjoy a cup of coffee and pastry “in a place where everybody knows your name,” he says.

The First Cup is located at 5428 Pointe Tremble Rd. For more information or current offerings, visit
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Read more articles by Rita MacDonald.

Rita MacDonald is a U.S. Army veteran and a full-time registered nurse who claims that her Irish and Scottish heritage is the reason for her love of storytelling. She is the mother of two adult sons, “Gummy” to her three grandchildren, loves talking with anyone who will engage in a conversation, and “eats life with a shovel!” In addition to her work with The Keel, Rita is a contributor for the Thumbprint News, an author of three books, and writes a blog at