Hamilton coffee house planning to employ ex-felons working to open this fall

The Fringe Coffee House, which will include art and musical offerings, has passed some building inspections with others on the way before it hopes to open by late October.

“We’ve got four more (inspections) left, but we hope to be done with the work by the end of this week that needs to be done before those final last inspections,” the Rev. Patrick Davis said about the coffee house at 918 High St., which already is decorated with murals by local artists.

“A couple artists are doing the final murals, and just kind of getting everything in place to open it up,” Davis said.

Davis has said he plans to hire ex-inmates to help in their rehabilitation. The hiring process will take longer than usual because of the criminal records of prospective employees. He also is implementing social distancing measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Davis said he isn’t daunted by the fact another coffee seller, likely a Biggby Coffee, is going in across High Street in a location that the city recently sold to a developer for $1.

“At the end of the day, it’s an empty lot, and I would rather see a business there than an empty lot,” he said. “I don’t think that Biggby is competition to us. I don’t at all. They’ve done studies – you put a McDonald’s across the street from a Burger King, they both do better. And we’ve got 60,000 people in this city. I don’t think the whole population is going to go to one or the other. I think there’s enough to go around.

“They’ll never be able to compete with the incredible local art we have here, and the mission of what we’re doing. And I think the public has been 1,000 percent behind what we’re doing.”

The shop will have six full-time employees who will work two shifts, starting at 6 a.m, and going into the night with live music.

“It will be quite the art space,” he said.

Each employee will receive other kinds of assistance, including education, parenting classes, and addiction-recovery classes. He was grateful to the many small businesses and people who helped with donations, fundraisers, calls of encouragement and prayer.

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