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Red Dot: bringing together people, stories and coffee

Butch and Arlita Ibach
Butch and Arlita enjoy a cup of coffee at their new coffee house.
Arlita Ibach and her husband Darrell (Butch) Ibach Jr. are empty-nesters and are now investing their time into another baby that constantly demands their attention - a budding business called Red Dot Coffee Co., at 505 N. Center St., next to Kroger. They opened on July 6 and will have a grand opening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 13, preceded by a ribbon cutting ceremony with Northville Mayor Ken Roth and community leaders.

The Ibachs have put a lot of long hours, sweat equity and visionary touches into the house they purchased in July 2014. It took two years to renovate and restore it. Then, it was a vacant, deteriorating house. Now, it is one of the “chill” places in town – with classic architecture and an inviting, upscale interior.

They want to see their newest “baby” become a hub in the community. Summer hours are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., closed on Sundays.

The coffee house is furnished with industrial-style tables and comfortable couches and chairs. Reclaimed wood from the old kitchen floor (salvaged from the dumpster) encases the coffee bar. Wood doors found in the basement have been converted to two counter tables set against the front windows. Vintage windows serve as the menu board – with prices of coffee, tea, smoothies and pastries written in white marker on the window panes.

The main room contains comfortable groupings: a couch and two leather chairs facing a wood and tile fireplace; a 6-foot communal table (from another reclaimed door) and smaller tables for couples and friendly get-togethers. The room has a corner desk, complete with free notecards and envelopes, which the staff will mail for free.

The bathrooms are large, individual rooms with sliding barn doors. Don't worry; they lock.

Ibach's decorating panache brightens every room. The library has extra insulation in the walls to keep it quiet. It has decorative shelves of books on the wall, lamps and tasteful blocks of words everywhere. Words are her thing – she likes their origin and meaning and how they are used to tell stories.

There is ample parking in the back and side lot, and outdoor seating on the porches. The coffee house has a front and back entrance with a beautiful yet functional ramp for handicap access.

Arlita's dream to open a coffee house is nearly as exciting as a new child. “I've always met others in coffee shops and coffee houses. I enjoy people and their stories, and I love coffee. Four years ago, I had the idea to have my own coffee house. I’ve never wanted a restaurant.”

They buy their coffee beans from Mad Cap Roasting Company in Grand Rapids. The flavor of the beans is critical to a great cup of coffee. “We weigh out our beans and grind them at specific settings based on the type of coffee and amount of humidity throughout the day to make sure that we have consistently, high quality coffee,” said Arlita. Red Dot also has a reverse osmosis water purifying system that preserves the minerals essential to a great cup of coffee.

Drew, Arlita, Butch and Chad Ibach
From left, Drew, Arlita, Butch and Chad Ibach at the newly opened Red Dot Coffee Co.
The Ibach’s two sons, Chad and Drew, are lead baristas but also pull the levers on social media – posting news about the opening and the brewing process to lure in millennials, members of Gen Y and baby boomers. Seniors are also finding it.

It's called Red Dot because it signifies “You are here.” Arlita invites customers to “be where you are now in your conservations, your stories and your life.” She would like to see people come in and share their stories, whether it’s seniors talking about the good old days or teenagers talking about what happened in class that day.

She lights up when talking about a person's journey through life. She wants Red Dot Coffee Co. to be part of that journey. That point is reinforced by two partial suitcases anchored to the wall near the back entrance.

Arlita worked with members of City Hall to get the business established. City Clerk Dianne Massa provided the business permit, and Brent Strong issued permits during remodeling of the “old yellow house.” The interior was torn down and reconstructed, with some walls preserved or modified and others removed. The original centrally located set of stairs was taken out, while another set of stairs near the coffee bar was left intact. They lead to the second-floor offices.

The Ibachs used local businesses and Michigan-based companies whenever possible to renovate and furnish the house. Greg Presley, owner of Presley Architecture, designed the interior, bringing Arlita’s vision to life. Mark Russell was the landscape architect. The rustic looking tables and comfy chairs that grace the space were purchased from Michigan-based stores.

During their first week of business, customers on social media and visitors to the store were saying, “It’s inviting. It's welcoming. It's a great, warm location. It's beautiful. Some said, “Yeah! It’s no longer the yellow house.” Now it is an appealing blue-gray house with a new roof and siding.

Regarding the products, customers are saying “It’s a great taste, phenomenal,” Arlita said.

The Red Dot Coffee House brings to four the number of coffee shops in Northville. Others are Starbucks on 302 East Main, Tuscan Cafe on 150 N. Center, and Next Chapter Book Store & Bistro on 141 E. Main. In a city like Northville, with numerous visitors and nearby residential neighborhoods, there are plenty of customers to keep these coffee shops brewing.

Of her dream come true, Arlita said, “I’m very excited. We (she and Butch) make a great team. I have the vision, he has the business side. It blends like a good cup of coffee.”



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