Lakewood Baptist Church has plans to open a 5,000-square-foot coffee shop and deli at the corner of Washington and Green streets in downtown Gainesville.
But don’t be wary, says Associate Missions Pastor Tyler Smiley. They won’t necessarily be pushing religion if you step inside for a cup of Joe.
“That’s not our desire,” Smiley said. “We don’t want to cover it up that we’re a church, and we aren’t doing a bait-and-switch either. We consider this a gift to the community, and we expect nothing in return.”
The 3,000-member church has plans to open Midland Station Coffee Co. before Christmas, and Senior Pastor Tom Smiley said the establishment will be a “relaxed, open space for college students and the business community to use.”
Tyler Smiley said he envisions Midland Station Coffee Co. as “a place where the community can gather and enjoy each other’s company and just have a spot where they can interact.”
The namesake is a tribute to the Gainesville Midland Railway car downtown.
“Instead of going with a church name, we decided on Midland … we asked ourselves, ‘How can we show this is something done by the community and for the community?’ Because, everything we’re doing — from our food to our coffee roaster to our employees — it’s local. And, we wanted our name to reflect that local feel,” Tyler said.
He said job openings will be posted soon to the church’s website, www.lakewoodlife.org, including posts for baristas, servers, food preparation staff and some management positions.
Food will be typical deli and coffee shop fare, he said.
“We just saw a need for people to be in the community together,” Tyler said. “We saw how beneficial it could be to the city and saw the opportunity and thought, ‘Let’s try it. Let’s see if we can really, truly give something back to our community in a unique way.”
His father, Tom Smiley, agreed.
“Our mission is to be locally, nationally and globally involved,” Tom said. “And this is part of that local mission.”