Not even a global pandemic could stop Danny Gonzalez from reaching his dream of opening his own coffee shop.
A partner with Tom Holmes in the new Funky Bean coffee shop and restaurant at 404 U.S. 31-W By-Pass, Gonzalez saw that dream delayed slightly before he opened the eatery to the public – with social distancing restrictions – last weekend.
“It’s probably crazy opening a business during this time,” said Gonzalez, who has worked as a chef at Holmes’ 440 Main restaurant and at White Squirrel Brewery. “But I’m always working toward my passion, no matter what state the world’s in.”
That passion was on display Monday as a smattering of lunchtime customers tried out Bowling Green’s newest restaurant and its eclectic mix of items ranging from coffee, lattes, frappes, quiche and pastries to pizza, salads and sandwiches.
“It’s a traditional coffee house with nontraditional food,” said Gonzalez, a 2003 Warren Central High School graduate who studied culinary arts in Nashville and worked at such far-flung locales as Las Vegas and Switzerland before returning to his hometown.
In what he described as “like a soft opening” because of the restriction to 33 percent of capacity, Gonzalez had a steady diet of customers in the smallish restaurant on the site of the former Little Brown Jug bar and across the busy bypass from the Med Center Health campus.
That location was one reason Holmes opted to purchase the 0.24-acre site and demolish the Little Brown Jug in April 2019.
“This site has great accessibility and is experiencing tremendous growth,” Holmes said at the time.
That strategy seemed to be paying off Monday as Gonzalez and his staff stayed busy serving customers in the drive-through, in the restaurant’s indoor seating and on a patio overlooking the bypass.
Among them was Tabor Meza, a Med Center Health nurse who was sipping on a white chocolate frappe on the patio.
“This is a good location,” Meza said, “and I like this outdoor area. People from the hospital will come over.”
Western Kentucky University senior Zoe Whitson, who was enjoying a vanilla iced latte on the patio, found something else to like about Funky Bean: its promise to used locally sourced ingredients.
“We’ll source a lot of our stuff locally,” Gonzalez said. “Chaney’s Dairy Barn (in Bowling Green) has some of the best dairy products you can find. We’ll use Chaney’s milk in our lattes.”
Gonzalez said Funky Bean will also use items from Warren County’s Grant’s Farm Produce and from Laura Bee’s Honey in Metcalfe County.
He’s glad to be able to provide an outlet for those businesses and work for his growing list of employees in a time when nearly all business activity has been disrupted by the coronavirus.
“It’s nice to be able to get people employed at this time,” said Gonzalez, who hopes to employ 28 people either full-time or part-time. “I’m happy to be able to give back to a community that has been good to me.”
Funky Bean is now open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. daily. Depending on how it’s received, both Holmes and Gonzalez hint that this may not be the last Funky Bean location.
“I hope to do several locations in Bowling Green,” Holmes said last year.
“My hope and dream is that we provide great quality products and people want us to grow,” Gonzalez said. “I would love to eventually have another location.”