Molly Bluma, of De Pere, needed a change. After earning a culinary degree, she spent several decades working as a chef, including 18 years at the growing Titletown Brewing Co. in Green Bay.
“Titletown had gotten a little too big for me,” Bluma said. “I wanted to do something different and to find out who I was again. After being off for about a month, I realized I needed to be around food.”
She helped a start-up business set up a kitchen and worked with a friend at another local business. When she left those temporary jobs, she knew she wanted to do something on her own. She considered starting a drive-through coffee shop but realized she wouldn’t be happy if she wasn’t preparing food. Plans began to form for a café that would serve coffee, breakfast and lunch.
This expanded vision and a search of potential sites led to the purchase of the former Kimco Engraving building in De Pere just off South Broadway on Honey Court. The location, just off the Fox River Trail, was ideal, and plans were made to convert it into a café.
“I purchased the building in April 2016, more than a year before opening," she said. "I was extremely nervous because I had put the cart before the horse. I bought the land and building before I had financing for the business.”
Bluma heard about SCORE and met with Jim Fitzpatrick, a retired CPA and volunteer with the Green Bay chapter. Fitzpatrick took her step-by-step through the basics of writing a business plan to help secure financing.
“The business plan was probably the hardest thing for me to do," Bluma said. "You can page through Pinterest and look for ideas of what you envision, but it’s hard to portray that in order to borrow money. I’m a cook, and didn’t have experience with this."
For the financial projections, Bluma borrowed on her many years of experience and knew how to set prices and calculate larger expenses like food cost and payroll. Still, even with strong projections, it took four proposals to lenders before getting financing.
Once funding was in place, she partnered with Brooke LeClaire, a friend whose skills included staffing and administrative tasks. Warehouse Equipment assisted with the kitchen layout, and Alliance Construction worked with her on interior and exterior design.
LeClaire and Bluma selected the name, Black Honey Hashery — black for coffee, honey for the street and hashery, a homey-feeling word meaning lunch counter or restaurant. But, they wanted a “hashery” that was more sophisticated.
“I knew I didn’t want it to be overly country, and went for more of a farmhouse chic feel with wood accents and personal touches,” Bluma said.
Similarly, she came up with a menu that included a blend of the gourmet and traditional with entrees ranging from hearty biscuits and gravy to the more unique vegan omelet bake. There are a variety of coffee drinks with a drive-through to serve commuters with a quick cup of coffee and bite to eat. There is also a patio, counter and casual seating for 80.
Since opening in May, the café has taken off with rave reviews from customers. LeClaire manages the front of the business while Bluma focuses on the kitchen. LeClaire also handles marketing and has been getting great comments from social media posts.
Looking to the future, Bluma said she is committed to running the business for 15 years and wants to be successful and have people enjoying the café.
“The best part of this is having to answer to myself,” she said. “It makes me want to do even better than I did before. What it comes down to is that I’m the one who will make or break the place — I need to be on my toes.”
Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and past district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.