M-36 Coffee Roasters opened a new cafe last Monday, filling both the vacant storefront and coffee void on South University Avenue left after Espresso Royale closed in June 2020 due to pandemic hardships.
M-36 owners Ken Pargulski and Lisa Tuveson were both Espresso Royale employees. They started their business after purchasing Espresso Royale’s coffee roaster last June.
“(After Espresso Royale closed), my immediate thought was that I wanted to keep doing what I do,” Pargulski said. “I really love coffee roasting, I really love coffee, and Lisa and I have had a long working history and a lot of experience. I just wanted to keep going.”
M-36 Coffee Roasters can be found at 1101 South University Ave. Their hours Monday-Friday are 7 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
After buying the roaster, Pargulski and Tuveson said their initial goal was to continue selling their coffee to grocery stores and other remaining Espresso Royale locations in Urbana-Champaign, Ill. When the opportunity came to lease the old Espresso Royale location, Pargulski said they were excited to return to their roots.
“We started really thinking about it … (and said) this is a good opportunity,” Pargulski said. “I mean we miss(ed) having that presence directly in Ann Arbor, and this was an opportunity to do it.”
Tuveson said the cafe’s atmosphere is diverse and inclusive, catering to both Ann Arbor residents and University of Michigan students.
“There has always been a mix of ages, types of people, demographic, anything at all of our cafes … we’re pretty laid back people and we welcome everybody,” Tuveson said.
Tuveson said that many old Espresso Royale staples, such as the pumpkin chocolate chip bread, vegan zucchini bread and almond raspberry scones will be returning to the M-36 menu.
For Ann Arbor resident Sofia Csazar, the return of a coffee shop to the old Espresso Royale location is a welcome surprise. Csaszar said she frequented Espresso Royale and is happy she can get her favorite coffee beverages from the new location.
“I used to really miss the Espresso Royale that used to be here, but I’m really very happy with (M-36),” Csazar said.
Nursing senior Serena Carter said she and her boyfriend like to try new restaurants and cafes together which prompted them to visit M-36. Carter said the flavor, alternative milk options, iPad ordering stations and central location were a highlight of the experience.
“This is a super local place that’s easy to access from all around campus,” Carter said.
Tuveson said M-36 hopes to continue the spirit and the feel of Espresso Royale locations, but they plan to use more organic products from locally sourced vendors.
“We’ll have some drink innovations, some bakery innovations … but it’ll feel similar to Espresso Royale because that’s where all our roots are … where all our hearts are,” Tuveson said.