The owners of Dexter’s Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea are stepping out and taking on bigger challenges with their purchase of the Coffee House Creamery in the Quality 16 movie theater plaza.
Owner Rachel Shelley took time out of her busy day to sit down for a cup of rosie and tell me about their recent acquisition and expansion.
Rachel Shelley opened Joe And Rosie Coffee And Tea in 2010 on the corner of Main Street and Broad in downtown Dexter.
“I have always loved this business,” Rachel tells me. “Loved food, drinks, and have done it for a long time. I have worked in various restaurants, bartending, waitressing. You name it I’ve done it.”
Rachel and her husband Mike Shelley came to the United States from Great Britain 15 years ago when Mike’s automotive career led them to southeast Michigan and a home in Dexter. After a few years of getting their family settled in, Rachel felt it was time to go back to work and began at a new coffee shop over by the movie theaters, Coffee House Creamery.
It was her job at Coffee House Creamery that led to opening Joe and Rosie’s. Rachel explains that she “started working here part time, loved coffee, loved tea, loved the customers and the whole food industry. Three years later a coffee shop in Dexter came up for sale and thought, I’m just going to go for it. I’ve got plenty of experience behind me. Love what I do. Let’s give it a try.”
So now you know: “Joe” and “Rosie” are not their names. “Joe” of course is American slang for coffee. “Rosie” comes from Cockney rhyming slang for tea. Huh?
Rachel explains: “Back in the day, if you were trying to avoid the police, criminals could speak in kind of a code. It is rhyming slang. ‘Apples and pairs’ mean ‘stairs’. ‘Bees and honey’ means ‘money’. ‘Butcher’s knife means ‘wife’. And ‘Rosie Lee’ means ‘tea’. ‘Rosie’ for short. “
So there it is: the name of the shop comes from slang for their two countries’ national drinks. “When we were coming up with something to call it, it just sounded different and we thought people might like it”, she says. “I get called Rosie all the time.”
Rachel’s experience with her coffee shop in Dexter has been positive. “Love the town,” she says. It was encouraging enough that a few months ago Rachel started thinking of ways to expand.
“I wanted to do something else”, she says. “Something more. What can I do to expand what we’ve already got. Opening a second location is kind of the next step.”
Rachel completed all the necessary paperwork and steps for opening up a second location. All she needed now was the actual location. “Ideally I wanted a downtown location but Ann Arbor was out of the question really because there’s so many coffee shops, so very expensive” she explains. “So I was looking to branch out in Saline or Chelsea but then I thought there’s already Zou Zou’s in Chelsea. Then Natalie offered me this place.”
Natalie Park owned the Coffee Creamery and was Rachel’s boss when she started working there 10 years ago. They had stayed good friends when Rachel stepped out and opened her own shop and now she was being offered her old place of employment.
But when it came time to actually commit money into a second location, Rachel balked. Natalie ended up selling to another group in December of 2016 and Rachel immediately regretted not taking the offer. But as fate sometimes will have it, the new owners didn’t take to the new business. They “didn’t realize it would be so much work” they told Natalie. The coffee shop was up for sale again and this time Rachel and Mike bought it, a month ago in December 2017.
There will be some changes in order to give the Coffee Creamery a new look that fits the personality Rachel has brought into Joe and Rosie’s in Dexter. A new “Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea” sign is on its way. The interior will see some new colors and rotating artwork on the wall. Retail will be expanded to include British candies and teas as well as an increased baked goods selection. Crepes will be making their way into the menu which has already been changed over to the Dexter Joe and Rosie menu.
In addition to the standard baked goods of muffins, cookies, and other treats, the menu includes sandwiches such as smoked turkey with havarti or Mediterranean with hummus. Salads and Paninis are also offered. You can find you next lunch from their complete menu here. The Coffee Creamery’s ice cream selection will remain albeit possibly reduced to make room for other changes.
I asked Rachel what her biggest challenge has been in taking on a second location. “I want to be at both places,” she replied. She is a hands-on boss working the counter like an employee. “I basically don’t get anything done when I’m here. I just serve and make stuff. I mainly do that. When I’m here I work the floor.”
Rachel is not just another boss showing up and lending an unneeded hand on the service line. She schedules herself to work alongside her employees, serving customers, prep, cleaning up – the public’s favorite kind of boss.
So next time you’re taking in a movie at Quality 16, finishing a meal at Carlyle’s, or just in the area, pop on in for a visit to Joe and Rosie Coffee and Tea. It may be an Ann Arbor address but it’s a Dexter connection.
Rachel wants to hopefully get into roasting her own coffee someday, to which I told her, “When that day comes, call me … I know a guy.”