By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Coffee and conversation was on the menu March 12 as friends and city officials gathered for the ribbon cutting of Merci Café, 3371 Greenfield, near the historic Springwells Park neighborhood.
Owner Tina Marie Mangone, who said the café has “the flavors of France in a social gathering spot,” hopes the spot will encourage people to sit down and visit with each other, free from the distractions of electronic devices.
She said the ribbon-cutting was a joyful occasion, and a celebration of her new suppliers and customers, and testament to the help her friends have provided.
“It’s not about me,” she said. “It is about all these people who have helped me, and it’s about the whole gathering. I feel happy, and there’s sunshine, and it is also my birthday.”
Mangone said she has enjoyed meeting her new customers, including Kelly, a local Springwells artist and teacher, who is painting a mural on the wall, a work-in-progress inspired by her Parisian honeymoon two years ago. The artist drew a smaller rendering, which she is projecting onto the wall as she paints.
“I have met only wonderful people,” Mangone said, adding that people in the neighborhood have begun to make the café part of their routine. She said she has sponsored 17 events since opening, from cooking demonstrations to conversational French lessons, in the past three months.
Mangone said she gets fresh baked goods daily from Detroit’s Avalon International Breads.
Patron Tina Ferrara has launched a monthly game night, with a variety of games, including cards, dominos and dice.
Mangone said she is happy so many people got out of work and came to her ribbon cutting.
“I am happy for people to communicate, talking to each other – not in French though,” she said with a laugh. “No one is working on their phone. This is wonderful.”
Merci Café will host a staged reading of “Rocky Road to Life,” a new short play by Dearborn resident Collette Cullen, at 2 p.m. April 7, with a post-show discussion.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)