Sisters Rachel Sikkema and Robin Aniszko always enjoyed hanging out in coffee shops and began to envision a coffeehouse in their hometown of Comstock Park. In January 2008 they turned that vision into a reality when they opened R&R Coffeehouse & Café at 3922 West River Drive NE. “We kind of saw a need for this kind of business in Comstock Park,” said Sikkema, noting that while there were food establishments on West River Drive in the downtown area, nobody was serving coffee drinks or teas, breakfast items, or deli sandwiches. “You have ice cream…you have burgers…you have pizza…we wanted to offer something different.” So the sisters, who grew up in Comstock Park, graduated from Comstock Park High School (Sikkema in 1995, Aniszko in 2001), and still live in Comstock Park, opened a coffeehouse where they serve a variety of coffee, teas, iced drinks, sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads. “We looked into (coffee shop) franchises, but the startup cost was prohibitive,” said Sikkema. “So we talked to owners of coffee shops and asked ‘What do you do? What works?’”
Both Sikkema and Aniszko had been working in food and banquet service at the Elk’s Highlands Country Club in Walker where Aniszko was a server, and Sikkema worked in accounts receivable. Aniszko still works seasonally at the Elks. They both said it was difficult to think about going from receiving a regular pay check to running their own business. But they took the plunge and rented a vacant portion of the downtown Comstock Park building where Sjikkema remembers taking dance lessons in a studio located there in the 1980’s.
It took some six months and lots of help from family members to completely renovate the space, line up vendors, and purchase equipment. Sikkema’s husband Scott did a lot of the remodeling, and their father built the counter. “At first our menu was really limited,” said Aniszko. “I don’t think it was even a page long; now we have thirty different sandwiches.”
During the first year of business, Sikkema and Aniszko expanded their menu and added catering to their business. They now have two part-time employees. The expanded menu came in part from customer demand, and a new menu is in the works that includes more customer suggestions. They also sell R&R t-shirts and mugs, and gift bags of coffee.
The artwork of Sikkema’s three children that hangs on the refrigerator gives the small shop a homey, family-owned feel, and she said they’ve had customers call it “home.” The two said the location has been a good one. “Summer seems to bring people out, a lot of walkers,” she said. “The (White Pine) Trail users come in. “People from the (Dwight Lydell) Park get lunch and take it back to the Park to eat.”
The two say it’s important to them to give back to the community where they are so deeply rooted, and that has supported them. They buy ads in the Comstock Park yearbook, support Relay for Life, and donate coffee for events such as the Panther Fall Classic 5K.