BRIDGMAN — When people come into Small Town Grounds in downtown Bridgman, says Eric Heward, a comment often made is, “We needed a coffee shop.”

That need was filled when he and his mother, Cheri Heward, opened Small Town Grounds on Sept. 29, which was National Coffee Day, she pointed out.

The business is at 4158 Lake St., just east of the railroad tracks.

Cheri Heward owns Small Town Grounds and Small Town Weddings and Floral, also in the building, which she owns. Totally You Salon is a tenant in the building.

Eric Heward’s business card reads “roaster,” meaning he roasts the coffee beans that are brewed into coffee. In addition, he is Small Town Grounds manager. 

Cheri Heward bought the building on the last day of 2015 and opened her flower and wedding planning business on Valentine’s Day 2016. The building previously housed Thunder Allee Cycles motorcycle shop, no longer in business.

She started her own business after working 17 years for nearby Classic Catering & Events, where she was its director of events.

Eric, 28, also worked at Classic Catering, for 13 years, starting when he was attending Bridgman High School. Plus, “I’ve always been a big-time coffee drinker.”

When Cheri Heward bought the building, part of it was occupied by a shop selling prom and wedding dresses, but the owner moved out after six months. It’s that space that now houses Small Town Grounds.

But when the dress shop moved out, Cheri was busy with her flower and wedding planning business. Eric was delivering flowers for his mother and working at a wedding barn near Galien.

Researching what was to become Small Town Grounds didn’t start until February of this year, Cheri said. Then construction started in May. Her husband, Jeff Heward, and Eric built some of the tables and the serving counter.

Eric’s wife, Miranda, made color pencil drawings and acrylic paintings that hang on the walls.

Eric also had to learn how to roast coffee beans, which he did online and from books.

Small Town Grounds buys its coffee beans from a distributor in South Bend. Currently, Eric said, two types of beans come from Colombia and one each from Brazil and Honduras, but he plans to add additional beans. The roaster was made in Turkey and has a computerized monitor to ensure consistent time and temperature during the roasting process.

The coffee shop could buy already-roasted beans, ready for brewing, but he said, “that wouldn’t be as unique.”

Small Town Grounds sells six types of espresso, brewed coffee, cold brew, iced coffee, tea, hot chocolate, hot cider, bottled juice, water and Boylan Soda. Frozen drinks will be added next summer.

There are donuts from Red Coach Donuts in Stevensville, cookies and muffins from Classic Catering, biscotti, chocolate covered espresso beans, and coconut caramels. Cheri said they may eventually add sandwiches to the menu.

And for those who like to brew their own coffee, Small Town Grounds sells its freshly ground beans.

Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. During the warmer months, it will be open until 6 p.m. on Fridays.