It’s an Anniversary Celebration: Three decades. Thirty Years. The Big Three-O. How Did We Do It?
Well, for starters, take a good idea—albeit an unusual one for the time—find a congenial location, and jump right in, with a can-do attitude, a lot of faith, and a functional, but by no means lavish, budget. For Bob and Mary Keedy, leaving Georgia for Petoskey in 1993 and opening Roast & Toast was the first step in creating what would become an iconic Lake Street destination. And, Roast & Toast would become the first venue among several in the Gaslight District restaurant group—Roast & Toast, City Park Grill, Palette Bistro—though they didn’t know it at the time.
Staffing through Serendipity
Now, at the end of these three decades, the Keedy’s are ready to retire and to pass the torch to their son Joe Keedy, and longtime employee Ben Walker. Both Joe and Ben practically grew up at Roast & Toast, making it their after-school destination. Walker spent so much time in a booth courting his girlfriend (now wife) between college classes, that in 2002 the Keedy’s put him to work. Ben has been managing Roast & Toast for over 15 years, coupled with Joe’s lifetime Roast & Toast experience and Wineguys management roles beginning in 2017 “makes the two an awesome duo to run the show,” Bob shares. Joe, already Palette Bistro general manager, will function as Roast & Toast’s managing partner, and Ben will multi-task as general manager and partner. “Lucky for us, Roast & Toast will be in good hands, and in the same vibrant location,” shares Mary.
Let’s Celebrate! All Month Long!
Throughout the month of May and into the summer, Roast & Toast will host anniversary events, in ways big and small. Think of discounts on food and beverages, rotating specials, Throwback Thursdays for a blast from the past, and a 30th anniversary coffee blend. Sign up for giveaways including gift certificates, coffee, T-shirts, mugs, and other swag, plus more. Highlighted events will include:
Thursdays, May 11, 18, 25 | Throwback Thursdays
90’s Music All Day | Old Menu Item Features
Sunday, May 14 | Mother’s Day
Free Coffee for Mothers
Monday, May 15 | Double Punch Day
Pick Up a Frequent Coffee Card
Receive 2 Punches for Only 1 Purchase
Tuesday, May 16 | $2 Tuesday Coffees
That’s Right: $2 Coffees ALL DAY
Wednesday, May 17 | Eating for Others — All Day
10% of Roast & Toast Proceeds Benefit Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
Friday, May 19 | Anniversary Day
Free Curbside Cookies
Celebrate Roast & Toast’s 30th Anniversary with Free Curbside Cookies
Saturday, May 20 | 30% off Roast & Toast Swag
30% Off All Roast & Toast Swag In-store & Online
Sunday, May 21 | Gift Card Bonus Day
Spend $100, Get $30 Bonus Certificate
Let’s send the Keedy’s off in good form, and get ready to begin the next 30 years.
Looking Back to 1993: Roast & Toast, the Newbie on the Block.
The Keedy’s grew up in Downriver Detroit and met in high school. In 1980, Bob from graduated MSU Broad College of Business and Mary from MSU College of Human Ecology with a Dietetics degree; they hit the road with the first stop in Dallas, Texas. For over 10 years, they moved with Bob’s career opportunities in corporate restaurants and for Mary in hospitals. Making good friends along the way included one who was roasting coffee in Nashville (1983). “This sparked our passion for fresh roasted coffee and the dream,” Bob Keedy recalls. “After 13 years away from Michigan, we were ready to move home.” They had the business plan.
Bob trained at roasting school in New York City. When they decided to go into the coffee house business, they spread a collection of maps on the kitchen table and started to look for optimal locations. They chose Petoskey, Mary’s mom helped to find the Lake St. location, and They were on Their way. And, good friend and roaster Randy Major came to help out.
When the Keedy’s arrived in Petoskey, they were only the second roaster in the entire region. (The other was a wholesale roaster in Glen Arbor, near Traverse City.) Clearly, artisan coffee was an idea that was still operating under the radar for most folks, even though Starbucks had gone public in 1992. Of course, the Keedy’s were following in a long tradition going back centuries: the first coffeehouse was located in Constantinople in 1555. A century later, Paris coffeehouses were the preferred hangout for a bunch of guys who came up with something we know of as the Enlightenment. (Thank you, caffeine!) On these shores, Boston was the site of the first American coffeehouse, established in 1676. Good company, indeed.
Great Coffee Doesn’t Just Happen: No Kidding. This Gets Complicated.
Relying on Bob’s NYC experience, Randy as a mentor, Specialty Coffee Association continuing education, and on-the-job experiences, the Roast & Toast coffee style emerged. The secret to great coffee has many components: source selected beans from international growers or importers; determine the bean profile and roast accordingly; create blends derived from compatible beans and flavors; perfect small batch techniques to keep product fresh at optimal flavor and aroma. “Like fines wines, the roasting of coffee beans requires an artist’s touch, a good nose, a chemist’s skill, and a lot of patience,” Bob adds.
More than Coffee.
Roast & Toast started with a simple menu to appeal to the lunch crowd: A few choices of sandwiches and salads, some baked goods, and two soups daily. Today, there are over 130 soup recipes, most still in rotation, and a collection of sandwiches, salads and sides that have legions of fans: The Turkey Avocado Club is a solid favorite, along with the Lake Street Salad, with lemon-cherry vinaigrette, cheese, pecans, dried cherries and grilled chicken. A salute to past and present staff members for their menu ideas and recipes.
A decision was made early on to follow the motto “Housemade Everything,” which is both a promise to patrons and a commitment to local and regional purveyors and farmers. Produce from Coveyou Farm; custom spice blends from Alden Mill House; sandwich accompaniments from Great Lakes Potato Chips; bacon from Plath’s Meats; maple syrup from Maple Moon Sugarbush; and sodas and coffee flavorings from Northwoods Soda and Syrup, plus many more, are menu and kitchen mainstays. Go to the website for the complete list of purveyors.
Do a Good Turn Daily. Repeat.
Roast & Toast likes to honor community at every chance, through donations, giving programs, incentives and volunteer opportunities. Staff members participate in Michigan’s Adopt-a-Road program. Coffee grounds are recycled through the Emmet County Recycling food scrap program, keeping them out of landfills.
On the charitable side, Brother Dan’s Food Pantry, receives gallons of soup every Tuesday and many other non-profits and charitable events receive donations of coffee, food, merchandise and gift cards. Together with sister restaurants Palette Bistro, City Park Grill, Roast & Toast hosts the annual Eating for Others benefit (this year on May 17). Sponsorship support includes Tip of the Mitt Watershed, Little Traverse Conservancy, Groundwork, McLaren Northern Michigan Foundation, Manna, and Great Lakes Business Network. Thousands of dollars are directed to local schools and charitable events annually. In total, Roast & Toast currently supports charitable organizations, non-profits, and community-focused philanthropies throughout the region. Because learning to share is a childhood value that never gets old.
Let’s Get this Party Started!
Join the celebration of Bob and Mary Keedy’s remarkable stewardship and help Roast & Toast continue its successful run as a Gaslight District landmark.
For complete details, visit RoastandToast.com/30years.
Great Petoskey News Review Article. CLICK to read FULL article.
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