By Megan Herrema | Echo
From researching sausage production to spending summer in Upland, Taylor students have discovered the Bridge Cafe is more than just a study spot with a relaxed vibe and a locally sourced menu; it's an opportunity to engage with the Upland community.
This summer, sophomore Kirsten Kosik stayed in Upland to work at the Bridge and create relationships with community members.
"I wanted to be more rooted in the Upland community, probably more so than I have the opportunity to do during the school year," Kosik said. "It was a means to know the community. By working there and living on campus, I was be able to become more familiar with the people and build relationships and cultivate more conversations."
According to manager Nicholas Hindes, workers like Kosik build relationships with regular customers who come for more than the fresh menu. "They aren't just coming in for food, they are coming for something deeper...They are there to connect with people."
Taylor students have also connected with the Upland community through a directed research project last January. Junior Bella Purcell and senior Josh McElroy worked with a small team of Taylor students to research possible ways to expand the Bridge's business. The team also observed how the Bridge's community-centered mission affected the business's plans for the future.
"It was really cool to see how (the Bridge) impacts the local community," Purcell said. "There is good you can do as a Christian in the ministry of business."
Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, who founded the cafe with his wife Cathy, said involving students on this project reflected the Bridge's mission to bring students into downtown Upland and engage with the local community. "This project forced the students to engage with local businesses, building owners, local government and more," Kerton-Johnson said.
McElroy said he enjoyed being exposed to a variety of environments and learning how much work goes on behind the scenes of a community-minded business.
"If you want to do something in a way that meets the mission of a restaurant, there's a lot of work that goes into it, and I think that's what sets the Bridge apart from the hot dog stand down the street," McElroy said. "And I can confirm, the sausages are delicious."