ELKHART — A new drive-thru coffee shop might soon open on East Bristol Street in Elkhart.
That’s not normally huge news, but there’s a twist.
The coffee shop — aimed at serving the general public — would be operated out of a church, the Elkhart campus of the Granger Community Church at 2701 E. Bristol St.
Campus Pastor Gene Troyer said he thinks the combination of a lack of coffee shops along East Bristol Street and need for a public meeting space make a good opportunity to provide a service and help raise money for church endeavors.
From a business standpoint, the church sees 19,000 motorists streaming by each day, he said, referring to a recent traffic count taken by the city.
“It’s amazing to me we don’t have any drive-thrus anywhere along Bristol Street,” Troyer said.
“From our perspective, there seems to be a need,” Troyer said. “We have congregants who live in the neighborhood and got a very positive reaction to this idea.”
While plans have been brewing for a while, the proposal will need approval from the city’s board of zoning appeals.
The board will meet Thursday night, July 10, at city hall and decide whether to grant a use variance that would allow a commercial operation in a residential zoned area.
If that is approved, the board will also look at a request to have a second stand-alone sign on the property to promote the business.
The meeting in council chambers begins at 6 p.m.
The unique mix will be part of what the BZA will look at when it determines if the use is appropriate for the setting.
Troyer agrees the idea is a little different.
“It’s not unusual for a church to serve coffee and pastries, but for it to be a commercial entity inside a church, that’s pretty unusual,” he said.
The coffee shop, tentatively named Bristol & Bay Brew,” would be on the building’s west side in an existing area known as the old fellowship hall.
That portion of the building is already used as a weekend café for congregants and has a strong wi-fi signal for Internet use, Troyer said.
The room will be renovated and furnished to create a relaxed atmosphere, Troyer said.
“We’re quite excited about the potential,” Troyer said.
Meanwhile, church officials are getting the word out about plans in hopes of building support and eliminating any concerns ahead of time.
Members of the church distributed fliers to nearby residents. On Monday, July 7, officials will host an open house at 5:30 p.m. to discuss plans.