Troost: Lansing coffee and Lansing community

All photos by Ashlee De Wit for The Lansing Journal

Lansing coffee
Troost Owner Renae Kooy and staff member Suhail Abbasy serve Lansing coffee and comfort.
LANSING, Ill. (July 2017) – For Renae Kooy, coffee is more than a caffeine boost, and Troost is more than a name.

The Lansing native recently opened Troost Coffee and Tea downtown, on Ridge Road and Roy Street. From its location to its menu, and even its furniture, Troost is not just Lansing coffee—it’s Lansing community.

“I care a lot about the people here,” says Kooy.

Grounds and groundwork

The groundwork for Troost was laid long before Kooy opened the Lansing coffee shop. Many of her memories growing up include coffee—it plays a part in many of her relationships, which she describes in detail on the Troost website.

“Coffee has never been about staying awake for me; it’s been a tradition, a sign of welcome and belonging, something dependable, an impetus for pause during a busy day—a true comfort,” she writes.

During her college years in Chicago, she developed not only her love, but also her knowledge, of coffee. “The coffee options are endless, and really good quality,” she says. But in and around Lansing, the choices are mostly Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks—all chains, nothing unique or local.

Brewing an idea

“I had wanted to do this for a while,” Kooy says. “There’s a little pun—the idea has been brewing for a long time. I never had time or space in life to do it; I was working full-time for a nonprofit. But then I switched jobs to a youth director (at Grace Reformed Church), and it was part-time, and so I had time to put toward this.”

She created a business plan, and adjusted it with help from free resources provided by small business associations. Then she started looking for a location. “I’ve always loved downtown Lansing,” she says. “I wasn’t willing to settle for anything else.”

Lansing coffee
When Kooy found the space on Roy Street, in downtown Lansing, it was exactly what she was looking for.
When she walked into the space on Roy Street, she knew she was done looking. “I saw the floor and thought ‘This is exactly the kind of feel I was going for.’”

The Todd family, owners of Mancino’s, are the owners of the building.

“They are incredible landlords—so kind. They really look out for me,” says Kooy. “It’s amazing to have a landlord who truly wants to see you succeed.”

Coffee and community

In the process of opening Troost, Kooy focused her efforts locally. Troost was financed by First National Bank. The Troost t-shirts came from Lansing Sport Shop, and Kooy got some of her building materials from Ace. She repurposed old furniture from the Lansing Public Library as Troost seating. “I wanted to support Lansing in even the details,” she says.

Troost is the Dutch word for comfort. And when Kooy made her plans to open Troost, she wanted something that would be comfortable for all of Lansing.

“I want everyone who comes in to feel the name,” she said. “I didn’t want to lean too heavily on the Dutch stuff—I don’t want it to feel exclusive. Lansing is diverse; I want Troost to be a place where diversity is encouraged and welcomed. I want it to be a place that’s welcoming to the community Lansing is, not just what it was. I love the community that Lansing is.”

Team Troost

The Troost staff is crucial to its atmosphere, and the building wouldn’t be what it is without the help of Kooy’s very dedicated family.

“One of the reasons this place is so great is because of the Troost team,” she says. “And it’s not only the ones that you’re seeing all the time—they make the customer experience awesome—but it’s also my dad, who built the entire bar top, and my aunt and uncle, who helped find furniture and create the light fixtures and the decorations. My family spent countless hours here. I would not have done this if I did not have a good team.”

The Troost menu and decor are partially inspired by the staff’s backgrounds, their personalities, and their travels around the world. Kooy spent time in the Netherlands; hence, the name of the Lansing coffee shop. But she’s also been in Israel, where she had “non-stop limonanas.” Staff member Katie Copley lived in Slovenia, so the photos in the shop are from her time there. Staffer Suhail Abbasy is the mastermind of the shop’s signature “Troosty.” He’s Jordanian and is the inspiration for the Carda-yum, which features cardamom, a spice popular in Arabic coffee.

Lansing coffee

Diverse tastes

Per its mission to serve all of Lansing, Troost has a range of offerings outside its coffee menu. “We have tea—I feel like I always forget to mention that,” laughs Kooy. There’s also a variety of caffeine-free options, like the hot chocolate, Italian soda, and a vanilla frappe. And their punch cards mean that whatever you choose to drink, the 10th one is free. To go along with the drinks, Troost sells baked goods like homemade stroopwaffles, cinnamon rolls, and cake pops.

They also have space for everyone—including a kids’ room, which was inspired by Kooy’s own family. “I have three nephews whom I adore, and they’re in here all the time,” says Kooy. “They’re loud, but (my sister) wants to go and do things. It’s much more comfortable for a mom to go out when they don’t feel like they’re interrupting somebody else’s flow. So there’s a room where there can be chaos, and it’s confined.”

Lansing resident Rita Wario was in Troost for the first time on a Friday morning. “It’s a mix between cozy and modern,” she said. She sipped her lavender and vanilla latte—the LaLatte—in the kids’ room, while watching her two children play. She also bought a cinnamon roll, but she didn’t get to eat much of it: “My son liked it!” she said.

Lansing coffee
The Troost meeting can be rented for $10.00 an hour.

Meeting needs

Another popular space is meeting room, which is available for $10 per hour. Local businesses have rented it to conduct interviews. A Dutch Culture group and the National Honor Society each rented it for a meeting. Middle school and high school groups have also rented the room for their weekly Bible studies.

And so Troost is living up to its goal: to be a place for lots of different people to do lots of different things. Kooy says, “Metropolis (Troost’s coffee supplier) made me aware of this: the American Revolution was planned in a coffee shop. A coffee shop can be a place where you can come and play a board game, or you can color. (I can’t believe how popular the coloring books have been!) But also you can do important work—conduct your business, or plan an awesome event, or think about the bigger things of life. I like that coffee shops can be used to do all these things.”

Troost has already witnessed a couple big events for its owner—Kooy’s nephew crawled for the first time in the kids’ room, and her fiancé proposed to her at the shop as well.

Percolating plans

Plans for the future of Troost include new menu offerings—like the breakfast sandwiches, starting in the fall.

Eventually, Kooy would like to open late for music performances, but details for that haven’t been worked out yet. Right now, Troost is open 7:00am–6:00pm, Monday through Friday, and 8:00am–5:00pm on Saturday. Troost has already featured live music at Cruise Nights, and they provided coffee during the LOOP bike ride. The Troost team will likely take part in any other community events that pop up as well.

“There are good things happening here,” says Kooy, “and I want to be a part of promoting the good things.”

Lansing coffee

Lansing coffee
Troost is located at 18155 Roy Street and is open 7:00am–6:00pm Monday–Friday, and 8:00am–5:00pm on Saturdays.

Lansing, Illinois, has a lot of great stories like this! Visit to be notified as progress develops on a newspaper for Lansing….

Cruise Night: It’s not about the cars

Cruise Night

LANSING, Ill. (July 15, 2017) – When Ross Leck and Barb Vlietstra try to figure out how long Lansing has been doing Cruise Nights, they refer to other Lansing milestones to orient their memories. The Clock Tower, the Park Foundation, Denny Flanagin, L.A.C.E., Thunder Road—all are part of Cruise Night history. The details are recorded somewhere, but they didn’t surface in time for this article.

What does become apparent—even to people who know nothing about engines, paint, or chrome—is that Cruise Night is a celebration of community. First-timers get advice and encouragement. Long-timers get respect. Amid the laughter and questions and pizza and neon, old friends reunite, and newcomers are welcomed into the family.

Scenes from Cruise Night

Cruise Night
Three times each summer for the past 10? 12? 15? years, traffic on Ridge Road between Burnham and Wentworth Ave slows down to cruising speed. Early in the evening is a good time for new police recruits to get to know their community.
Cruise Night
The prime spots along Ridge Road fill up early in the afternoon, and the side streets fill up soon after.
Cruise Night
The hill near Ridge Road and Grant Street provides a picnic-like vantage point for people to gather and catch up with each other.
Cruise Night
Phillips Chevrolet is a major sponsor of Cruise Night, so a desirable spot near the Clock Tower is reserved for their Corvette collection.
Cruise Night
Sandy Kiel is part of the team at Thunder Road Productions. Thunder Road works with the Lansing Association for Community Events (L.A.C.E.) to organize three Cruise Nights each summer.

Barb Vlietstra of Thunder Road Productions believes the sense of community is what makes Lansing Cruise Nights so special. In this video she explains (1) what judges at a typical car show look for, (2) how a Cruise Night is different from a car show, and (3) how Lansing’s Cruise Night is unique in the area:

Cruise Night
All kinds of people participate in Cruise Night. It’s a family-friendly event with no cost to participate.
Cruise Night
Taking pictures is a way of showing respect for a job well done, and it’s a way to store ideas you might want to try with your own car.
Cruise Night
Bikes are part of the Cruise Night community too.
Cruise Night
Local businesses do well at Cruise Night.

Tony Rone welcomed me into the car community by giving me the keys to his Buick Skylark. I didn’t understand most of what he told me about it, but he had clearly put a lot of work into the engine and the interior. In fact, he had won an award at another car show earlier in the day.

Cruise Night
Around 8:30pm, the sun began to set on Cruise Night 2017.

Cruise Night
It was a beautiful night for cars, people, and car people.


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Seminars throughout Thornton Township benefit Lansing

Thornton Township seminars
Lansing resident Jeri Villa (white shirt) attended the July 15 information session. She received more information than she realized she needed, and is planning to attend a follow-up session on July 22.
SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (July 15, 2017) – Nearly 300 people crowded into the lower level of the Thornton Township headquarters in South Holland for the first in a series of seminars for township residents. Since 2017 is the year of the Cook County Triennial Property Tax Reassessment, Thornton Township Assessor Cassandra Holbert anticipates that residents will have questions about what the reassessment means and how they should respond. Her office has organized 12 information seminars scheduled at various times and places in 8 different villages across the township. The Lansing workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, August 22, at 6:30pm, at the Lansing Public Library.

Thornton Township seminars
Cassandra Holbert (standing) brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to Thornton Township.
The July 15 session had been advertised as a Property Tax Assessment Workshop, but it also included presentations on foreclosures, mortgage assistance, credit repair, and avoiding probate when transferring property after death. Lansing resident Jeri Villa attended the three-hour meeting. She wanted to make sure she could continue to apply for an exemption on her property assessment, and she came away with more information than she was expecting. “Wow…I never knew some very important, but simple, facts about applying for an exemption for a senior!” she said after the seminar. “Nobody ever made that clear before.” As Thornton Township Supervisor Frank Zuccarelli explained between sessions on Saturday, Cassandra Holbert is a real asset to the township. She retired from serving as a Cook County Assessor in Joseph Berrios’s office, and she brings all that knowledge to her role as Thornton Township Assessor. She considers herself an advocate for taxpayers, and her office is available to “help our residents understand their property taxes,” she says.

Thornton Township seminars
Thornton Township Director of Communications Ernst Lamothe (standing) believes Thornton Township was voted Township of the Year because of all the services and resources it provides residents.
Villa, like other attenders, was originally interested in only the property assessment portion of the seminar, but she found herself captivated by Mario Reed’s presentation about “property after death.” Along with Karen Yarbrough, Cook County Recorder of Deeds, Mr. Reed explained that wills and trusts might not protect a person’s heirs from having to go through probate in order to take ownership of assets. Following his presentation, he spent nearly an hour answering questions from attenders. The high level of interest prompted Recorder Yarbrough to schedule another session for Saturday, July 22, at 10:00am. That meeting will be held at Victory Apostolic Church in Matteson, Illinois, and will focus only on Property After Death. Attorneys will also be available at that session to give advice about specific situations. “I’m planning to attend that presentation,” says Jeri Villa. “It was more relevant to me than I realized it would be.”

Thornton Township
More than two-thirds of Lansing is in Thornton Township.
More than two-thirds of Lansing is in Thornton Township (the rest is in Bloom Township), and Thornton Township is the largest township in Illinois. That gives Lansing residents access to a broad network of people, information, and other resources.

Ernst Lamothe, Director of Communications for Thornton Township, explained that practical seminars like these are one of the reasons Thornton Township was awarded 2016 Township of the Year.

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