Kefa Café will leave its location in the Silver Spring Library and open a café in the new Wheaton Library, while Bump ’n Grind will take over the Silver Spring spot, according to the principals involved.
“We have been honored for the past five years to operate the coffee shop located on the grounds of the Silver Spring Library,” said Kefa’s co-owner Lene Tsegay in a statement, “and we are proud to have established a precedent for creating a welcoming and supportive community space for library customers. It has been a welcome opportunity for us to expand the services we provide to our Silver Spring community.”
Kefa’s original contract was for five years with built-in annual renewals that the county exercised. “At the end of that period, the contract has to be rebid,” said David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services
Kefa and Bump ’n Grind both submitted proposals through the county’s Local Small Business Reserve Program.The RFP included the operational requirements and duties of the contractor, equipment expectations and a minimum list of the menu items the operator must offer.
“The proposals were reviewed based upon a criteria in the solicitation and when the rankings came out. . .Bump ’n Grind had won,” Dise said.
The criteria included the contractor’s experience, the café’s business and operations plan, and product list with proposed prices.
“That’s the same type of solicitation and the same process through which [Lene] won the Wheaton contract,” Dise said.
To assist with the Silver Spring build out, Tsegay and her sister (and co-owner) Abeba launched a GoFundMe campaign in February 2015.
The campaign raised more than $54,000 from 451 donors and was part of the investment in the café.
“We’ve worked with Lene on that,” Dise said. “I can’t speak to the final details because it’s still being worked out, but we are going to be reimbursing Kefa for many of the expenses that were made in preparing [the café].”
“We look forward to applying the lessons learned from our experience in managing to the Silver Spring Library café to the new café at the Wheaton Library,” added Abeba in the statement.
“We consulted with Lene on the design and build-out of the Wheaton facility because she was, if you will, an in-house expert on this after the lessons we learned at Silver Spring,” Dise said. “In recognition of that, we are reimbursing Kefa for as much of the expenses and equipment as we can. So neither the community’s support and generosity, nor Lene’s extreme investment in the Silver Spring site, are going to go unrecognized.”
Dise said Lene actually likes some of her equipment better than what the county installed in Wheaton, so they will swap.
Bump ’n Grind will be responsible for providing any countertop or other equipment that’s not permanently installed in the Silver Spring location, according the RFP.
David Fogel, Bump ’n Grind’s owner, said that once they move into the library, they will provide a similar menu as in the existing location, except for offering beer and wine. So the business model will be slightly different, but Fogel said he wanted to maintain Bump ’n Grind’s analog focus.
“We’ll have a record bin for people to browse,” Fogel said. “I’ve been talking to Hannah [O. Depp] over at Loyalty Books about doing some programming, as well as hopefully having some kind of curated books for sale as well.”
Fogel sees that portion of café’s business as offering some synergy with the library.
“My perspective from the library’s goals and objectives are similar to ours,” he said. “Let’s just create a community space that’s serving the people in Montgomery County. The more that each of us are doing that, the better.
“We both want to be doing things—hosting events and programming and providing a service that resonates with county residents,” Fogel added.
In the meantime, Fogel is working on a building a new coffee bean roasting facility in Kensington.
“We’re really focused on trying to be a premier roasting institution for the county,” he said, as well as supplying both of his locations.
And while Dise can’t say exactly when it will happen, he said the new contracts would not go into effect for either operator until each library is fully open to the public.
Photo of Kefa Café exterior at the library by David Lay