All photos by Ashlee De Wit for The Lansing Journal
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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, Illinois, has a lot of great stories like this! Visit TheLansingJournal.com to be notified as progress develops on a newspaper for Lansing….