Mean Bean to Open April 1by Amy Wenger on March 20, 2015
It's been quite a little bit of time since the town was buzzing with such excitement over the arrival of a new business. The anticipation is building, and brewing, in more ways than one.
Residents and guests of Bremen are beyond thrilled to welcome a new coffee shop to the historic downtown corridor. The Mean Bean Bistro and Brew will be opening on April 1 at 6 a.m. in the former location of the Italian Coffee Bar, at 110 West Plymouth Street.
Mean Bean Bistro and Brew will be owned by Kim Wilcox, who most returning visitors to the establishment will recognize as one of the talents from her time at the Italian Coffee Bar. She is also being joined by two "spunky" baristas, or fellow "BeanHeads," as Wilcox calls them. "They both have wonderful personalities, and once they get trained, get used to the flow of customers, and learn the rhythm of the restaurant, they will be wonderful assets to the brew team."
Wilcox brings her own distinguished pedigree of experience to the business. "I wanted to take what I had learned while working at the Italian Coffee Bar and turn it into something of my own," she says. "I have a culinary background as I went to school for Culinary and Pastry Arts at Ivy Tech while I worked at a few restaurants. My passion for cooking originated from my great-grandma, who loves to cook, and my passion just grew throughout school."
Among the specialties that Wilcox and her staff are proud to offer are a various selection of homemade pastries, such as muffins, scones, and cinnamon rolls. There will also be paninis, salads, and freshly prepared soups. "I really want a restaurant that has a lot of homemade meals for lunch, and Bremen doesn't have that. We want to make sure that we get our food to our customers quickly, but also that it tastes delicious."
Wilcox was raised in Bremen, but departed in her sophomore year of high school to graduate with upperclassmen in another state. When she moved back to Bremen, she began working at the Italian Coffee Bar, and was more than eager to return to the beloved hometown of her childhood.
"I love this small town!" she exclaims. "I loved the customers who came in, some regular, some not. I love that they know me and I know them and that they embrace and support the town. I always told my family, if the Italian Coffee Bar went up for sale, I would buy it. It was and will be, the Mean Bean that is, where I enjoy my time."
She is also overwhelmed by the kindness and the enthusiasm that the community has shown in advance of her official premiere. "It's very exciting! I honestly didn't realize how happy the town would be now that they're getting a coffee bar back! I know a lot of people were sad with the coffee bar closing down, but when I went into this venture, I want to make sure I gave it a face-left or life with a shot of bright personality! I just hope my customers continue to be excited and engaged as we open. I've got a few things up my sleeve to make sure we don't fizzle out that the town hasn't seen, and I really think it's going to work well."
Having been immersed in the town's culture from both a personal and a professional vantage point has given Wilcox a distinct advantage in knowing well what her customers expect and deserve. She also credits her time spent working in a Granger dining facility with stoking her desire even further. "I learned a lot of what worked with the restaurant, and what didn't work. I was with customers day in and day out, so I took what they wanted and threw it in, while I took what they didn't want and tossed it out." She still communicates with the man she calls her mentor, particularly when she gets herself into what she jokingly refers to as a "snafu of sorts."
Of her new vision, Wilcox says, "I know this place like the back of my hand, which really gives me a great perspective on what my customers will appreciate. I could cook at home and love it, but it takes a certain person to work in kitchens, and that isn't something one can be taught. It's either in them or it's not, and I was blessed to be born with that!"
Wilcox adds that there will be a gathering place in the back of the restaurant for folks who would like to host meetings or private functions. "It's tucked away from the main eating area, making it a little quieter, which is nice so one won't have some of the distractions up front. It is available upon reservation, so be sure to call first, as it may already be booked for someone else," she advises.
"We really are excited to open to the town of Bremen, and I know it's going to be a breath of fresh air for our customers," Wilcox promises.
Mean Bean Bistro and Brew is already very active on both Instagram and Facebook, and they also have a website at www.meanbeanbistro.com. As the business launches, the hours of operation will be Mondays through Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., with possible modifications to the schedule as opportunity warrants. The phone number is (574) 546-2500, and they will be accepting orders "to go."