Colleen Kelley

Colleen Kelley

By Rachel Scott

Born and raised in Lansing, Colleen Kelley decided to take her love for coffee shops and invest in opening her very own café. Opened in March of 2005, The Avenue started out as a much-needed second home for the students and graduates still circling around the Lansing area. Due to the economic crash in 2008, Colleen had to rethink the future of her café and decided to get a liquor license to introduce new business to the space. The Avenue is always in a state of evolution, constantly growing and changing in ways that strengthen its presence on the Eastside. 

Now with the addition of a “farm to table” kitchen concept, The Avenue is developing into not only a space of intense creativity, with jazz and punk bands gracing the stage, but also into a sustainable business.

Colleen has seen the surrounding neighborhood on Michigan Avenue grow and change, allowing a greater number of local businesses a chance to survive and prosper. As Colleen stated, a community needs “residents who care about their neighbors, whether it’s their neighbor right next door who might need an egg or the neighbor who no longer has a home. Making sure that as a community there’s a safe place for people to stay if they’re down.”

Colleen and The Avenue are setting a wonderful example of how businesses can make their spaces not only enjoyable, but also spaces of long-lasting learning, creativity and acceptance.

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