By Katelyn S. Irons | Echo
Coffee, culture and craft are coming to Upland.
The Bridge Café, projected to open this spring, will offer coffee, lunches and European-style baked goods. The project is backed by Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, associate professor of political science and international relations, and his wife, Cathy Kerton-Johnson.
"As a family, we hope this project will be something that helps catalyze a unified culture in our small town, which at the moment has many fragmented communities," Cathy Kerton-Johnson said. "We see our role as pioneers in starting a business in a downtown district that has been slowly dying. While there are many people working to prevent this downtrend, we believe we can be an important part of the downtown revival."
The Kerton-Johnsons come from Cape Town, South Africa, and lived for six years in England before choosing Upland as their home. They want The Bridge to be a connecting point in the Upland community.
"It will be like taking little bits and pieces of culture in Upland and bringing it together all in one place so that people can get a taste of what Upland is as a whole in one area," senior and student connections manager for the project Amanda Roden said.
Roden currently connects students with artistic or musical talents to The Bridge.
"You won't just be studying there," Roden said. "You'll be seeing artwork on the walls and musicians come in and perform there; there will be poetry readings."
Roden also pointed out the convenience of having a coffee shop so close to campus, as many students currently drive to Gas City or Marion for a quiet spot to study.
Cathy Kerton-Johnson ran a small baking and catering business during her college career and recently worked as the business manager at Payne's Restaurant in Gas City.
"Since I was very young I have had a dream of owning a shop that sold beautiful things," she said. "The Bridge will be the culmination of all the things that I love, as well as meeting a need in a community I love."
Last week, the Kerton-Johnsons began a Kickstarter fund, which offers rewards (like one free coffee a week for a year) to donors. The Kickstarter already has 79 backers with $6,124 pledged of its $6,000 starting goal.
This money will fund the down payment on the building located at 230 N. Main Street, right across the bridge in Upland, by Subway. The kitchen is already fully functional, and catering will begin as soon as the building is acquired.
The fundraiser ends on Monday at 12:45 p.m. Check out the project here.