Jonathan Farman says the best business move he ever made was finding the right partner. Jonathan Frantz, his partner, agrees.
The two met in 2016 while launching an image consulting business. Though that business did not come to fruition, both Farman and Frantz started their partnership to open a salon.
“I learned who to be business partners with, who had meshing personalities, the same goals, with everyone on the same page,” said Farman. The two have nearly opposite skill sets and passions, which works out perfectly. “We’re yin and yang but we have our roles figured out.”
“I like the creative part, the designing, the ideas,” Farman said.
Frantz enjoys the financial end, arrangements and details. “Being an entrepreneur is dealing with things nonstop sometimes. You never know what’s going to pop up and I enjoy the process of what entrepreneurship brings ,” he said.
In 2018, they opened Urban Jonny’s, a salon at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Alger Street in Grand Rapids’ Alger Heights neighborhood. It’s thriving.
In January 2021, the building with Urban Jonny’s went up for sale. The partners established an LLC, along with having a couple friends join and bought the building. “It was always the dream and it came true,” said Frantz. But then more dreams started forming.
Over the years, as they’d been talking with the salon customers, one message became abundantly clear.
“They need a community spot to gather!” said the idea man, Farman. “There’s not a coffee shop within five miles, not one in Alger Heights.” But when detail man Frantz started crunching the numbers, they realized they needed something more. “A coffee shop was going to happen but adding a spot for people to gather and socialize with drinks made the idea click” said Frantz.
They worked with the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority and found out they fell into a district for a new liquor license. The process was definitely detailed and long but “a great learning experience” said Frantz.
And, while they’d been able to get a loan for the real estate, banks weren’t eager to help with a startup business.
Farman had met Northern Initiatives Commercial Lender Venard Roberson years ago through Seeds of Promise, a community improvement initiative in SE Grand Rapids, and introduced him to Frantz. “I had no doubt in my mind about these two,” Roberson said. They are driven. They’ve got an education as entrepreneurs.”
A loan from Northern Initiatives helped them with working capital and equipment like the smooth espresso machine, and get started on the liquor license process.
Meanwhile, Farman took a crash course in coffee by working for six months at a Starbucks store inside a Target. The staff was well aware he was there for research, and happily helped him manage multiple orders with multiple drinks, and got him get reacquainted with service, after a long-ago job at Applebee’s. Starbucks was “amazing from the start,” Farman said. “I’m glad I did it and I’m glad to be done with it.”
Sip Coffee and Cocktails opened in late October 2022, serving coffee, espresso drinks, bagels, flatbreads and mocktails. They went through an unprecedented 30 pounds of espresso beans in the first three days. The liquor license, which they had first started the process in mid-2021, was finally approved in December 2022 and Sip Coffee and Cocktails held its official Grand Opening Dec. 16.