Great Waters Coffee seeks to revitalize Newberry, care for those in need

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May 14, 2014 — Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan — Newberry, official moose capital of Michigan, could soon be known as the best place to get a caramel macchiato in the Eastern Upper Peninsula.

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“There was no true coffee shop within an hour of this area, no social hub other than bars in town,” said David Kenny, formerly the media director for a large church in Seattle, now living in Newberry. When he and his wife Rebecca, a UP native, couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee in town, they decided to open their own shop.


The Kennys bought the old Falls Hotel on Newberry’s main drag this past November and opened Great Waters Coffee Company two months ago. The lines have been long ever since.

“A lot of people have a history with this building,” Kenny said. “They’re glad to see someone doing something with it.”

When the 20,000-square-foot building turns 100 years old next year, it will look much different from the abandoned relic it was when Kenny bought it. He’s got plans to add a bed and breakfast, a photography studio, a coffee roastery and a third-floor apartment; the event center opens today.

“It’s all liquid. It all can change. But we’ve got [the coffee shop] and we’ll see how this goes,” he said.

Since it opened, Great Waters has been trying to weave itself into the fabric of the community. So far, they’ve collaborated on events with Living Water Church and Tahquamenon Country Sled Dog Race, and now they’re adding a major anti-hunger organization to the list.

Volunteers distribute food at The Link during one of Feeding America West Michigan's Mobile Food Pantries this April.
Volunteers distribute food at The Link during one of Feeding America West Michigan’s Mobile Food Pantries this April.

On Thursday, May 22, Great Waters will donate 20 percent of all sales from 4-6 p.m. to Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank’s branch in Sault Ste. Marie, which provides food to 14 hunger-relief agencies in Luce County, including the Luce County Community Resource and Recreation Center (“The Link”) in Newberry.

“It’s wonderful to have a new business in town, and I’m actually grateful it’s not a bar,” said Mary Archambeau, The Link’s executive director. “It’s something for adults and kids to go in and see and admire the old building. It also brings in more work, and it gives people something to do.”

And the coffee?

“It’s very good,” she said.

Great Waters makes its own pastries, gets its beans from Michigan-based Magnum Coffee Roastery and has already stumbled upon what has the makings of a local favorite: the Yeti, a blend of white chocolate and espresso, served frozen.

Kenny wants Great Waters to be a source of hope for people in Newberry, a glimpse of a future in which Newberry is more than just a place to stop for gas. With more retail and recreation options, he believes Newberry could be a destination in its own right.

“There’s a lot of untapped potential for this area,” he said.

Great Waters Coffee Company is located at 301 Newberry Avenue.