The former Maplewood Nutrition location in Maplewood Mall where d’griot will reside. (GIH | Rasheed Ajamu)

Blew Kind, a mother, artist, and poet, began her journey in the coffee shop industry 14 years ago. She started by using her East Kensington home as her base of operations, thanks to a free portable coffee machine she received. In 2015, she expanded her business and relocated it across the street, renaming it Franny Lou’s Porch from Leotah’s Place. Unfortunately, Franny Lou’s has since closed down. But the owner is now settling into her new location to launch her next cafe and community space in Germantown.

“I’ve always felt connected to Germantown,” Kind says, discussing why she chose this neighborhood for her new location. “I’ve been here for six or seven years. I’m from Virginia originally, so I’m from trees and woods, and I feel really connected to the woods.”

Since her time in Virginia, Kind has worked in coffee shops, saying the skills are transferable anywhere she settles. In fact, after moving to Philadelphia, she originally got her start at Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery in South Philly.

d’griot, a new cafe by Kind named after African storytellers, will be located in the building previously occupied by Maplewood Nutrition & Dietary Food Shop, a business that served the Germantown community for 58 years. She envisions the new space as a Black, futurist, and community-oriented spot for people to come and “feel the good vibes.”

The business will be divided into two sections: the front area will be a community space expected to open in August. She doesn’t have an opening date for the cafe and catering section at the back yet. Franny Lou’s Catering will also be a part of the new business within the back section.

She shares more background on the inspiration for the name, saying, “I just love [the griots] and the idea of a story. I want to encapsulate the stories of our ancestors as human people. So, I’m trying to tap into our ancestors and really create a magical present place and encourage seeing the magic in the present and just being present.”

While still being established, Kind wants to make this new chapter of business a cooperative. Right now, she is still thinking about what that would entail and how that would look, but she says, “I do believe in profit-sharing, and I do believe cooperatives have a lot of support in development. And I believe that cooperative stuff is very Black — it’s actually very ancestral.”

She continues, “Let’s use history as an understanding to grow from what we have learned as a people, and then let’s focus on what we want.”

While Franny’s didn’t have much seating, d’griot will offer more. Some other key differences between the old location and the new one that Kind points out are that she’ll have an outside yard, a tea garden, a kids’ area, and a patio. 

Aside from coffee, Kind would like to offer vegan and vegetarian snacks, saying all the food and beverages will be “nutrient dense.” She would also like to begin hosting various events like the “Takes a Village” story hour, where local authors and their books will be highlighted, and “Open Porch,” which is an event blending open mic and vending opportunities.

While Kind has the keys to the space, she is still raising funds to help realize the rest of what she envisions for it, including the cafe portion. Aside from the funding she is campaigning for on GoFundMe, her two other biggest needs are building a team and booking the space to bring in revenue.

Kind ends, saying, “I’m excited to grow, and we’re going to have so much fun.”

After eight successful years in East Kensington, the former Franny Lou’s Porch owner wants to expand her coffee shop legacy, bringing a new cafe to Germantown.