Hive the Place to Bee is a café and micro-roastery. Founded by Calanit Kamala and Bree Dezort in 2013, it is located at MacArthur Boulevard and Fruitvale Avenue. Their café business represents the collaboration of their different talents and areas of expertise. Calanit had always been passionate about coffee, and Bree had food background as a grilling chef.
Before they launched Hive the Place to Bee, Bree and Calanit noticed that they had to leave their neighborhood to find high quality food and drinks. As local residents, they started the café because they wanted to provide high quality food and drinks to their community.
The theme of community informs how they run their business. Most of their six employees from the neighborhood and 85% of everything they purchase and use comes from Oakland. It is a child friendly café with a dedicated area for kids to hang out and play. “I’ve seen people create relationships in the café,” Calanit said, recounting how she witnessed a friendship grow between two dads who regularly came to the café with their young kids. “I feel like it’s an extension of our living room. We spend a lot of time there, and it’s about creating a community space.”
In order to start Hive the Place to Bee, Calanit and Bree converted what was previously an office space into a food service space. Since they endeavored to re-create the entire interior themselves, it was a significant challenge. “A lot of heart, sweat, and tears went into it,” Calanit said. Hive, the Place to Bee really is the place to be for their customers because of all the thought and effort that went into making it beautiful. Fun fact: they are the first business in all of Alameda County to ask and be approved for the use of back painted glass, (glass painted on the side that touches the walls).
If Calanit could go through the process of opening her business again, she would find a space that was already designed for food service. The renovation ate up more of their time and money than they had anticipated, including almost all of money they received as a loan from Main Street Launch. Other challenges she has faced include higher than expected labor costs after the minimum wage in Oakland increased and high employee turnover in the service industry.
Calanit and Bree are excited about their new emission free electric roaster. In addition, all electricity for the café comes from renewable energy. As their next goal, they are seeking to expand their B2B business opportunities.
You can check out Hive, the Place to Bee’s food menu by clicking here.