Flava Café will be opening in Frogtown
Change is brewing in St. Paul’s Frogtown neighborhood as entrepreneur LaShante “Shaunie” Grisby is set to open her coffee shop, Flava Café.
Grisby, who is originally from Detroit, Michigan, arrived in Minnesota in 2014. She went to Clark Atlanta for her undergrad degree in sociology and obtained a master’s in education “with a focus on youth development and leadership” in 2017, she said.
There’s an inspiring story behind the Flava Café business. “Really it started in my head—when I was in undergrad, and it started out as a youth arts organization,” Grisby recalled. Over time she changed the scope of the business.
Grisby explained, “I wanted to focus on arts mostly because I grew up in Detroit. It’s a very musical city—you know we’ve got Motown. So, music and writing, poetry, creative writing was always an outlet for me.”
She added, “We didn’t have a lot of those spaces that nurtured that type of engagement for folks in my community. So, I wanted to create something that people could use as a way of escaping their reality, even if it’s just for a few hours.”
Launching the coffee shop is a dream come true. “I started to think about coffee when I went to college, that’s when I started visiting coffee shops. I really liked the atmosphere—started to see and understand the organic relationships that happen there,” she said. As a result, she pondered the idea of starting her own business.
The welcoming coffee shop vibe influenced Grisby’s business structure. “I thought about how I could create these communal spaces that don’t necessarily have to be this singular thing—it could be a multitude of things,” Grisby explained. She emphasized that her coffee shop will be multifaceted.
In 2018, Grisby started working on her unique business concept. At the time she thought, “This is what I want to do when I retire; I want to open a coffee shop, and then I thought about how I can integrate the work that I already do in that space,” she said.
Grisby continued, “I integrated my work in youth development and my love for coffee, community and music,” which exemplifies the essence of Flava Café.
The coffee enterprise was officially registered as a business in 2020 and will be opening soon. “We have our first location at University and Dale,” Grisby said, “at the Frogtown Crossroads development in partnership with NDC [Neighborhood Development Corporation].”
The shop is expected to open around May of this year, and Grisby is thrilled to be moving into the Frogtown neighborhood. “I wanted to be in a place that I felt represented me and our people—I wanted to be a part of revitalizing and uplifting the neighborhood,” she said.
Grisby said she was grateful for the strong, influential, and wise women who collectively helped her live out her dreams. “The community and village that raised me, really all of the Black women that have supported me on my journey whether that was fulfilling college—to them helping fundraise,” explained Grisby.
When customers support Flava Café they can expect a variety of hot beverages and locally sourced baked goods. Grisby noted, “There aren’t many Black-owned coffee shops that are franchised, it’s something I want to take into consideration at some point in our near future.”
Despite some trials along the way, Grisby remains resilient and upbeat. “You have to have a mindset of persistence; yes, there will be challenges, yes, you will have bad days—and I think it’s OK to allow yourself to do that, but not too frequently,” she said. Overall, it’s important to stay focused and have a positive attitude.
Grisby shared helpful advice for the aspiring entrepreneurs: “Own your ideas or idea—learning how to discern somebody’s wisdom versus pessimistic folks who’ve been beat down by the world is important.”
She added, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
For more information, visit www.flavacafe.org.