Sister Lakes ice cream parlor adding craft coffee menu

SISTER LAKES — Sister Lakes community members will not have to travel far to order their favorite latte this summer.

Driftwood Summer Shop, 94370 County Road 690, Dowagiac, announced it will be launching a full craft coffee menu this summer.

The venture is the latest for the 74-year-old ice cream and memorabilia store, which was passed from Lorie and Steve VanAntwerp to Allison and Daniel LaFond — the niece and nephew-in-law of the VanAntwerps — in 2019 after 35 years of ownership.

“Sister Lakes is a special area,” Daniel LaFond said. “It’s distant from the cities. In the winter, most folks go back to Chicago. It’s insulated from major franchises. We’re fortunate we’re the only ice cream game in town. Coffee is such a popular commodity in the states and this area doesn’t have a craft coffee shop. For us to fill this void is going to be a great business decision. To get a great latte, you’d have to drive 15 to 25 minutes away to get
some coffee.”

According to LaFond, Driftwood has partnered with Forte Coffee in St. Joseph, which will be providing the business with locally roasted coffee blends. Lattes, espresso, iced drinks, assorted teas and hot chocolate are just a few of the items that will be offered. He also said Driftwood will have a light breakfast menu.

“The market is pretty well copy and pasted,” he said. “Everyone has similar menus. Before we developed our menu, we wanted to decide who our roaster was going to be. Working in St. Joe, I drive by Forte Coffee every day. I was able to meet the owner, Brian Maynard. I told him about our store’s history, and he leaves and comes back with five bags of coffee. We tried all their coffees, and we said, ‘this is ouar guy.’”

Maynard and his Forte staff took the LaFonds and their team under their wing, showing them the ropes of the business and how to best prepare and serve craft coffee.

“He said he would help us throughout the process,” LaFond said. “They have been instrumental. We have learned a lot thanks to them.”

The LaFonds plan on having the coffee menu ready to go when they reopen the store for the summer season Memorial Day weekend. Barstools will surround the bar, which is located in the back of the business. The booths have been moved to the adjacent wall. In addition, the inside of the business has been repainted, the floors redone and the garage expanded.

“We’re very excited,” LaFond said. “We’re going to spend the next six weeks getting ready. We want to hit the mark that the community expects.”

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