Carly Hubbard ’16 is putting the finishing touches on a new cafe at 42 Union St., which is due for its soft opening Friday at 8 a.m. The shop, called Rough Draft, will offer coffee drinks, simple refreshments, a future cocktail bar and draft beer, and a space for study and conversation for students and members of the community.
“I’m just so thrilled to make something beautiful and serve it to people. I’m excited to provide a place for great conversation, good study, and hanging out with pals, and to have a space that can characterize that,” Hubbard said. “I hope I can join the list of cool off-campus places to just hang out.”
Hubbard said the cafe will offer a space for students to study after regular business hours, as well as offering a place to host events and meetings off-campus — and of course, serving good coffee.
“I just want people to come hang out, because I believe that community is about conversation and delight over beautiful things and study and chatting and jokes, and I thought it was really important to have a space like that,” Hubbard said.
Currently, the cafe has four employees, including senior Haley Talkington.
“She’s been very focused on figuring out how to make a good cup of coffee,” Talkington said.
“We’re learning what a good espresso tastes like and what a bad espresso tastes like, especially for this brand.”
Hubbard, who majored in biology at Hillsdale, said her interest in coffee grew from a hobby to an intellectual interest in college. She said she has enjoyed learning the science and the art of coffee, as well as the business side of running a cafe in an environmentally responsible, sustainable way.
“I love that the beans are roasted in Michigan, and that I know where they came from, and the farmer who grew them,” Hubbard said.
The coffee is from the Hyperion Coffee Company in Ypsilanti, Michigan, a roasting company that imports much of its single-origin coffee from farms in Peru. She also plans to make her own mocha mix and syrups for other coffee drinks.
Adjunct Professor of English Ellen Condict said she has known Hubbard since she was a 5th-grader at Hillsdale Academy and has mentored Hubbard through college and beyond — as well as offering advice and expertise on remodeling and decoration. Condict said Hubbard’s background and her personality have prepared her for opening a business in Hillsdale.
“She’s always been interested in science and the humanities,” Condict said. “She’s very social; she loves to make people feel welcome; and she has a lot of enthusiasm.”
Talkington said the cafe will offer a meeting space that has been lacking in the community and on campus.
“She’s really filling in an area in the community — with Broad Street closing down — that we need,” Talkington said. “And she also has a really beautiful place for hosting events. It’s geared toward having students here studying. It’s all very thought out as far as how you write a rough draft. You want to do it here.”
Hubbard said she plans to open the shop from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day but Wednesday.
Though the shop has been approved for a liquor license, Rough Draft will begin by focusing on coffee drinks and refreshments like scones, cookies, and gourmet toast (bruschetta fans, rejoice). The summer will give Hubbard and her employees valuable experience with the menu and the process of running the shop, and she plans to host a grand opening party when students return in the fall.
Hubbard said the name of the cafe reflects the process of opening her first business, as well as the experience of many of her future customers.
“That’s why it’s called Rough Draft,” Hubbard said. “You’re never going to be fully prepared until you start and get something down on paper and get started. I know I often compare myself to the final product in a lot of things, but the reality is that it takes a lot of messy and unglamorous mistakes to get you to the point where you have something to offer.”
Condict said the cafe — both the open space and the entrepreneur behind it — will be a place for community outside campus.
“Carly has been really intentional about creating an attractive space. I love that,” Condict said. “She has an idea of making a space where great conversations happen. It’s a neighborhood atmosphere, and that will draw people in.”