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The front seating area at TAP Cafe. The owners hope to have the cafe open later this month. (Photo: Brian Wells/Times Herald)

People are knocking on TAP Café’s door all the time trying to come in. It seems there’s a lot of anticipation for it, Mark Stevens said.

Hopefully those people won’t have to wait much longer. Kim Stevens said “it’s getting there” and by the end of the month she and her husband plan to open the “nautical,” European-feel café in St. Clair’s Riverview Plaza.

“I think the fit’s going to be pretty good,” Mark Stevens said. “It’s a niche that’s not here.”

The couple, who also own The Anchor Point Bistro in the plaza, said the café will open in stages, starting with a soft opening to help the café find its footing and find out “the little quirks.” In the second stage it will introduce more drink and menu items, with a grand opening potentially sometime this summer.

The café will be open Monday through Saturday 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eventually Saturday’s hours will change to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but hours could change depending on customer demand.

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The front counter in TAP Cafe. The owners hope to have the cafe open later this month. (Photo: Brian Wells/Times Herald)

The café will be fast-casual and more “grab and go” than the bistro. Menu items include soups, salads, muffins, crepes, sliders, frappuccinos, loose leaf tea, bubble tea, smoothies and more.

Kim Stevens said they’ll have about 10 to 11 staff stationed there and Mark Stevens said he has no doubt employees will come up with special nautical drinks.

The café, like the bistro, will use Thumb Roast Coffee products and the owners plan on playing with flavors and experimenting with wine-infused coffee and bourbon-infused coffee, Kim Stevens said.

When it comes to the look of the place, the café’s centerpiece is the raised seating area with a built-in pergola. Couches and standard seating are available throughout the café.

There is a front patio that will have six to eight seats and garage doors at the front of the café that open, with plans to have them open as much as possible during the summer, Kim Stevens said.

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A raised seating area with a pergola has been installed in TAP Cafe. The owners hope to have the cafe open later this month. (Photo: Brian Wells/Times Herald)

Photographs hang on the walls, taken by Lori Hannon, and are for sale so visitors can say they took a piece of St. Clair County with them, she said. 

The couple uncovered the original flooring from when the plaza was built, though the couple hasn’t been able to pin down how old it is, “back back in history” Kim Stevens said.

“It looks like ship planking which is what we really liked to begin with,” Mark Stevens said.

The TAP Cafe location used to be Simply Fresh Café, which closed in December 2019, and before that was Sue’s Coffee House, which closed in 2018.

The Stevens have kept some of the space’s history, such as a wall designed with rocks from Sue’s Coffee House and the countertop that served both previous businesses.

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A rock wall and wine bar from Sue’s were kept and relocated inside TAP Cafe. The owners hope to have the cafe open later this month. (Photo: Brian Wells/Times Herald)

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The couple has been working on the café since 2020 and initially hoped to open it in October or November. Kim Stevens said COVID-19 has been the main delayer, but they did choose to open during a pandemic and her husband said they built it “COVID ready.”

In September Mark Stevens said the couple has invested about three-quarter of a million dollars into The Anchor Point Bistro and TAP Café.

During the pandemic the cost of projects has easily doubled, but he said it’s worth it.

“We wanted to give the town the café,” he said.

Contact Bryce Airgood at (810) 989-6202 or bairgood@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @bairgood123.

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