MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, MI — From catfish sausage croissants and muffled potatoes, The Us Cafe provides a space where the community can gather and enjoy cozy food and fresh roast coffee.
Owner Kaja Thornton-Hunter opened The Us Cafe, formerly known as The Business Cafe at Barney Maffet Place, in May 2021.
Thornton-Hunter said she bought the building in hopes of creating an administrative home for her nonprofit, Overcoming Barriers, and her small Cajun seasoning business, Kaja’s Flavor.
Because the business, located at 2300 Maffett St in Muskegon Heights, opened during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thornton-Hunter decided to offer the cafe space to people working from home.
“It had a kind of internet cafe feel,” Thornton-Hunter said. “I thought if they worked with us during the day, they would need coffee.”
Aldea Coffee, a Muskegon Heights company, partnered with the cafe to launch the concept for the business, which eventually became part of The Us Cafe coffee line.
Later that year, Thornton-Hunter added food items to the menu with the help of local chef Stace Jones. Together, they created a menu full of flavor, combining Thornton-Hunter’s seasoning company and Jones’ cooking expertise.
“We’ve become a community staple, a community hub space,” Thornton-Hunter said. “It used to be the business cafe, but we took the ‘us’ out of the business and made it The Us Cafe, a place for all of us.”
Since the cafe opened and changed its name, Thornton-Hunter said the place has become a destination spot for local organizations and politicians.
Through a program called Jump High Institute, in partnership with the Grand Valley State University Innovation Hub, the cafe strives to provide training for people who want to start a business.
The cafe hosts resume parties every Thursday to help locals improve their resumes for job applications, Thornton-Hunter said.
“So many different connections have happened here,” Thornton-Hunter said. “Different ideas came out of this space and all types of city officials made it a great meeting space.”
As for the menu that has drawn customers across Muskegon County, the Jerk Salmon Egg Roll is a fan favorite at Us Cafe. Customers who order the Jerk Salmon Egg Roll can purchase three for $12 or four for $15.
For those looking for breakfast rather than brunch, the cafe offers sausage croissants topped with two scrambled eggs and cheese. Customers can order the croissants with a choice of bacon or sausage for $8 each.
To finish off the meal, customers can also choose from Starbucks-inspired drink orders like Frappes, Cappuccinos, Lattes, Hot Teas and Smoothies.
The company boasted of serving “some of the tastiest comfort food” in the Muskegon Heights area.
Thornton-Hunter said her business shows how community supports community, thriving as a hub where local entrepreneurs can get inspired to start their small business.
“We didn’t set out to be that community space, but just transformed ourselves into what the community needed,” Thornton-Hunter said. “And we’re just rolling with that and happy to be a centerpiece for Muskegon Heights, a beacon of light on the corner of Barney and Matthew.”
Hours of operation are Monday through Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday. Contact the company at (231) 747-9014.
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