Festival of Faith & Writing introduces Madcap pop-up cafe



For the first time ever, a temporary Madcap cafe will be added to the list of vendors for the Festival this year.

Lisa Ann Cockrel, the director of the festival, has made hospitality central to the work of the Center of Faith & Writing. With over two thousand visitors expected on campus for the extended weekend, a lot of work has been put into making the space welcoming.

Cockrel noted that good food and drinks are foremost when it comes to good hospitality, and Grand Rapids has a lot to offer in that area. However, with so many festival guests relying on shuttles to get to and from campus, they don’t have a lot of opportunity to see this aspect of the city.

“It breaks my heart,” said Cockrel, “when people come for the festival and leave with this perception that Grand Rapids is all big box stores and fast food. One way we’re trying to get around that challenge is to bring more local food to campus for the festival.”

The festival has partnered with Creative Dining to serve GR Popcorn and Palazzolo’s gelato as well as their own Calvin Bakery cookies at coffee breaks. The Madcap pop-up came about after some conversations that Cockrel had with some friends at Laity Lodge, an ecumenical retreat center in Texas.

“[They] are real wonder workers when it comes to creating hospitable spaces for conversation,” Cockrel admits. “They encouraged me to dream big and ultimately agreed to underwrite Madcap coffee for everyone at the festival.”

Gate Davis, the director of operations at Laity Lodge, met Cockrel at the 2016 festival. According to Cockrel, after having conversations on hospitality, Davis began brainstorming with her on ways that Laity Lodge could offer aid to the festival.

He’d visited Madcap’s downtown café when he was in Grand Rapids for the festival and loved both the vibe and coffee,” recalled Cockrel. “I mentioned at one point how much I wished we could introduce more festival-goers to Grand Rapids’ great coffee and food, and a plan started to come together.

Cockrel declined to comment on the cost of the pop-up cafe.

Madcap will have a pop-up cafe set up in the lobby of the DeVos Communications Center. Their services will include espresso, cappuccino, lattes, mochas, miels, hot chocolate, chai and a variety of teas. Anyone with a festival badge will be able to enjoy free coffee. No cash sales will be available, since the cafe is expected to be busy enough with festival attendees. The hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and 7 a.m. to 4pm on Friday and Saturday.

When asked if Madcap will be a new norm for future festivals, Cockrel said, “We’ll see how it goes this year!”