ON A BLUSTERY DAY in 2008, Bee Roll, owner of Beezy’s Café in Ypsilanti, discovered the space that would soon become the home of her lively café. “I fell in love the moment my feet hit the sidewalk,” she recalls. “It was everything from seeing a niche to fill—there was bar food all around, but nowhere to get a great cup of coffee, food and conversation—to the reasonable rents and an eager community that embraced my spirit and attitude.”
Canadian-born Bee had been seeking a direction for her culinary craft, after stints in Florida, Maine, Iowa and Michigan. She worked for 10 years at the popular Roast and Toast Café in Petoskey and then at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor before settling on the idea that she wanted something smaller and juicier. Six and a half years later, she has created the place she had been dreaming of.
“My focus is on simple, honest food,” she says. “I want it to evoke a feeling like a visit to your aunt’s house, a little out of the way and a little worn in, where maybe she’ll make you the best scrambled eggs and seared ham and potatoes or a tuna fish sandwich on freshly baked bread. No pretense, nothing terrifically fancy. Good company, good food.”
Though Bee jokes that Beezy’s isn’t about the food, her customers beg to differ, voting the café the Best Breakfast in Washtenaw County every single year since it opened. Bee’s credits really good ingredients, such as local eggs from Sunrise Farms in Homer, Amish free-range chicken and freshly baked bread, made in-house every morning, as the foundation for her recipes.
“Great food. That’s what we do. We have a limited menu, but we’re very ‘put together’ and it’s gonna be awesome every time. Our specialty is our realness—we’re very consistent, so people can count on a great experience.”
At lunchtime, customers rave about the Chicksilanti, a straightforward roasted chicken breast sandwich with tarragon, celery, onions and mayo. “It’s super fresh, crisp and delicious,” she says. Then there’s the BBQ Bacon Chicken Salad. If you can say the name five times in a row, you just might get a discount, says Bee.
Beyond the food, she enjoys watching the café evolve into a special part of the community. For some people, Beezy’s has become their favorite place to bring their family for breakfast. For others, it’s their special meeting spot with friends.
“I love that people bump into each other and make it their space. You see people from all around town and others who have driven in from Dexter and Saline. Everybody has a different story, but people tell me they love coming in here. Our guests are neighbors and friends who make a point to stop by and engage. It’s good to be one of those places. I love that I can pull up a chair and sit down and visit with my customers. It’s awesome. That’s what really matters.”