Customers raise money to help open The Mad Priest Coffee & Cocktails on Cherry Street

The Mad Priest Coffee & Cocktails is now open. (Image: WTVC)

In this week's Made in our Hometown, we visit The Mad Priest Coffee & Cocktails - now open on Cherry Street.

Owner Michael Rice wants this place to be different than your typical coffee shop or bar.

He wants people to step inside and experience other cultures.

"'People say I don't feel like I'm in Chattanooga' and that's exactly what we were going for," Rice said.

He says this is Chattanooga's first fully compostable cafe.

"Nearly everything is zero waste, so we have very little trash that goes out that door."

Part of Michael's mission is to empower his employees to succeed.

He offers higher wages and invests in further education.

He also teaches them how to run a business.

"A lot of being a leader is serving, a lot of being a leader is humility."

Employee Mark Stahlwood is getting ready to compete in the U.S. Brewers cup in January.

It's been a dream of his for five years. He credits Michael with helping to make it come true.

"He really has a passion for something that I connect with which is enabling our staff to do their jobs really well," Stahlwood said.

Customers are on board with the concept.

More than $40,000 dollars was raised by donations to help open the place.

Jazmine LeBlanc comes in a few times a week.

"You have a spot that you can sit and meet with different style seating, but you also have a place where you can learn about other people, and you're going to run into people from everywhere," LeBlanc said.

The Mad Priest is also known for hiring refugees. Two refugees currently work in the new shop.

The original Mad Priest Coffee Roasters is on Broad Street.

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