By Braden Ochs | Echo
Walking through the Bridge front door is a warm, welcoming sensation for customers all around. Paintings, photographs, sculptures and books huddle around the group of wood tables. Vintage lights glow, making the tables radiate themes of focus and community. Even the employees grab attention; their quickness to satisfy and their friendly faces make any day brighter. They reach out to customers and talk to them personally.
Since the spring of 2015, the Bridge Cafe has given Upland, Indiana a central hearth. It is a place where the Taylor community and broader Upland community gather together for meals and fellowship. The business was started by Cathy Kerton-Johnson, the wife of Dr. Nicholas Kerton-Johnson, a political science professor at Taylor. Cathy Kerton-Johnson created the Bridge to establish a commonplace among Taylor students and Upland residents.
"The community is great, and the atmosphere is very welcoming both in the front and in the back," said Alija Ozers, employee at the Bridge.
According to Nicholas Hindes, the Bridge manager, the cafe is a place for revitalization. One of the overarching goals for the cafe is to show the kingdom of God through business. He believes the idea of beauty is a common language. The Bridge seeks to show the beauty of God and his creation. They accomplish this in two ways: the freshness of foods on the menu and the art displayed throughout the cafe.
The Bridge believes in the importance of fresh foods. According to Hindes, the food being served is locally sourced and brought from the garden to the table. Even the coffee is local, coming from Conjure Coffee in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The employees will receive the food in smaller batches and cook the meals as ordered. The goal for the Bridge is to prepare food in a 15 minute frame. They try to honor the customer's time, while also preparing the meal with care.
"There's a huge emphasis on understanding that the process of making food and preparing coffee is an art, and it's something that takes time," said Mikayla Marazzi, employee at the Bridge.
Another way that beauty is conveyed at the Bridge is through artwork. As customers enter, colorful paintings, sculptures and framed, clear, crisp photographs are shown throughout the building. These are made by local artists with a hope of recognition. The Bridge lets them display their artwork and even present their artwork to customers. This is important to the Bridge's mission of beautiful design. It shows customers the beauty of life, and it gives artists recognition for their work. The Bridge gives them this recognition so people may see the beauty in what they do.
Apart from the fresh food they serve and the art they display, the Bridge tries to bring people together with the events they host. There is trivia night, which is a monthly endeavor for those who enjoy competing, having fun and creating quirky team names like the intellectuals or the turtles. There is a poetry night, which gives local poets the opportunity of sharing their artwork. Community is important to the Bridge, and they hope to "bridge" the gap between worlds. They are open every day of the week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. They are located in downtown Upland on 138 N. Main St. They hope you can join them.