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Al Fresco Dining at Cuppa Joe

Al Parker - June 23rd, 2008
Coffeehouse owner and restaurateur Shayne Daley says he has no plans to become another Starbucks.
“Five (locations) is enough,” he stresses with a laugh. “We’re keeping busy.”
Daley and his wife Sandi opened Cuppa Joe, a popular drive-through java joint at the corner of Front and Garfield in Traverse City in 2000. They followed up with Another Cuppa Joe, a relaxing coffeehouse at Building 50. Soon after came Cuppa Joe sites at Cherry Capital Airport and inside Horizon Books in Traverse City’s downtown.
Now the Daleys have opened their fifth location, Cuppa Joe Warehouse Lounge on Garland in the city’s most dynamic neighborhood, the Warehouse District.
Shayne and Sandi have turned a vacant former warehouse into a warm and inviting bistro that still retains an industrial vibe. For those seeking a casual experience, there are several stuffed chairs that invite guests to relax, maybe with a coffee, a good book or a magazine.
For serious eaters, there are dozens of tables and chairs to provide a relaxing, low-key ambience to enjoy a meal. Several comfy conversation areas dot the 2,500-square foot area. For those who prefer dining al fresco, there’s a roomy courtyard.
“The Warehouse Lounge is much more than a coffee house—in essence it’s a small plate restaurant,” explains Shayne. “We’re taking the comfortable, casual atmosphere of a coffeehouse, giving it a sense of modernity and combining it with outstanding food.”

INTERNATIONAL FLAIR
The Warehouse Lounge’s small, but interesting menu features such seldom seen salads as nicoise, with tuna, eggs, potato, tomato, green beans, red onions, olives, capers and complemented with a tasty mustard vinaigrette dressing; or chicken tabouli, a middle eastern grain
salad made with bulgur wheat, green

onion, tomato, cucumber, olive oil, and lemon juice, served with a skewer of
chicken and pita bread.
Sandwich lovers will want to try the hearty roast beef with brie. Or the ratatouille, with its roasted eggplant, zucchini, red onion, fresh mozzarella, topped with tomato basil sauce. Both are served on fresh baguettes.
There’s an international flair to the entrees, which include such middle eastern favorites as falafel, grilled lamb or chicken kabobs, and a mezzo tray with hummus, baba ghannouj and labneh, served with fresh veggies and pita chips.
From Spain comes a sizzling shrimp dish featuring six shrimp sautéed in chilies, garlic and olive oil and served with a crusty French bread. Vietnamese spring rolls, Thai tofu and bean curry, pork on lemongrass, fried calamari and baja fish tacos are among the other eclectic offerings.
“Our menu is designed to change seasonally,” explained Shayne. “In the fall we may go heavily on a European cuisine. Whatever we choose, it will be top quality and tasty.”
In all of their operations, the Daleys have stressed consistency, quality and customer service. That’ll be no different at the Warehouse Lounge, which is being managed by Jeremie Torok.
“People know us for the quality and care we put in our coffee products,” said Daley. “Now they’ll know we put the same into the Warehouse Lounge.”

ENTERTAINMENT ON THE WAY
In addition to the food, Daley has plans for several activities at the Warehouse Lounge. Live entertainment is on the agenda, along with some movie ideas, including film nights that might feature anything from current indie flicks, to film noir to Kurosawa, one of Daley’s personal favorites.
“We’ll put up a canvas outside and show films,” he said. “We want to foster a creative, alternative energy here with our activities.”
He foresees visits from local filmmakers or tattoo artists. Perhaps a TV Dinner Night, where they feature “really bad TV movies and really good TV dinners.”
Shayne’s also encouraging area entertainers to contact him about performing on the Warehouse Lounge stage.
“There are a lot of entertainment choices in the area,” he said. “When people are deciding what to do for their evening, we want to be in their top three.”
Neither Sandi or Shayne come from a restaurant background, but both love food, especially coffee. Shayne served for nine years in the U.S. Army, including four years in Germany. That offered a perfect opportunity for Sandi and Shayne to explore bistros and coffeehouses across Europe. They saw things they liked and kept mental notes for the time they might open a place of their own.
Along with neighbors like InsideOut Gallery, Right Brain Brewery, Salon Saloon, Organic Eatery and Red Dresser, the Warehouse Lounge is bringing a sense of creative energy to Traverse City’s revitalized Warehouse District.
Still, many Northern Michigan residents remain unaware of the district’s growing, vibrant character.
“We’re hoping to create a synergy down here where we are all about complementing each other,” said Shayne. “We’re out to build something that is a whole greater than the sum of its parts.”

Cuppa Joe Warehouse Lounge is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call-in orders are welcome at (231) 421-1945.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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