David Benavidas


Hey everyone – we would like you to meet David. He’s an amazing person and we love that he’s a part of the Roots community. The next time you see him in the shop stop and say hey! We sat down with him and asked him a few question.

Sum yourself up in two sentences.

Oh God, there’s no way. I am a Michigandering Latin-Italian American from Miami Beach. I am a charismatic, family/food enthusiast, Roots’ coffee/bagel connoisseur.

Meh, it could be better, but it’s accurate!

If there was advice you could give to your younger self what would it be?

I followed my own advice, so I would say, always follow your dreams and always be kind to others.

What is something you have always wanted to try but have been too afraid to?

I think, this is very cliche, but skydiving.

Why do you say skydiving?

Humans are not meant for planes.

So, are you an adrenaline junkie?

No. I am not an adrenaline junkie.

What brought you to Grand Rapids?

I wanted to become a doctor so I applied to medical school and chose Michigan State. So I plan on getting my degree and practicing medicine down in Miami.

What is your favorite thing about Grand Rapids?

The people.

Is the culture different here? How is the culture different?

Absolutely. There is a lack of diversity and that is a big culture shock for me. I’d like to see more integration between communities. But, the communities that are here are absolutely amazing

What is your favorite memory?

I have a lot. I don’t want to get too sentimental but if I were to go sentimental, I’d say this past new year with my grandmother. She has since passed away, but she was very sick and I got to spend the New Year with her and watch the fireworks. It was sad, but it was beautiful.

Are you close with your grandparents?

Very. They’re the reason I study medicine.

What drives you to do what you do? What motivates you?

I am studying medicine and what motivates me is helping others. Knowing that I can make an impact in my community studying medicine pushes me to study harder to do what I do.

What inspired you to go into medicine?

My grandparents, they both had cancer. I just remember how doctors were able to help save my grandparents life and keep them around a few years longer and I wanted to be able to do that for others.

How long have you been in school?

3 years. But, I’ve been a bartender before and I have my degree in psychology.

What is your favorite thing about Roots?

Roots is one of the reason I love living in this building [in an apartment upstairs]. But I will say the people. Both the baristas and the people that come here. It’s just a happy place and I do good work in happy places. Plus, it’s downstairs and I can come in my pj’s if I wanted to.

Gary Wybenga


Gary is a big part of the Roots Community. He’s here every week and usually multiple times a week. He does great work in the neighborhood where he lives and great work around the world. We asked him a few questions:

Sum yourself up in two sentences

I am a passionate disciple maker of Jesus Christ. And I love people.

If there was advice you could give to your younger self what would it be?

Younger self would have known more about God earlier on in life. That would have made a difference to know him better earlier on. And to pay attention to His leading.

What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Three years ago I left a regular, steady, 9-5 employment situation and decided to launch this non-profit, and that was quite risky. I’m a tad bit naive and so, as a result, I’m glad it all worked out because I didn’t really know what I was getting into. It’s called Network-20 International. We are discipling young men internationally and in the United States.

This discipleship job is really the riskiest thing I’ve ever done.

What is your favorite thing about Grand Rapids?

I love that Grand Rapids is booming as a town. You know, there’s a lot of building going on and it’s attracting a lot of young people. I really like to see a lot of young people in our city. It’s a well cared for city and people are very thoughtful. People want to do the right thing by the citizens of this city and I see that as a flourishing type of environment; businesses booming, buildings are going up all over the place, people are coming. It’s a very blessed, flourishing environment and that’s what I like about it.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

I have a couple of places in mind. I would love to go to India. I love places that are very crowded and somewhat chaotic. So, I imagine being on a crazy, chaotic street in India and I think it would be amazing. One of my favorite places, currently, to go is Port-au-Prince, Haiti which is a very chaotic, very crowded place. There is always something to look at; a sensory overload. So many sights and the smells and the sounds. I would also like to go to Russia. {Gary recently returned from his first trip to Russia.} I prefer to go to places that are not real touristy.

What was one of your most defining moments in life?

Someone asked me this just the other day, one of the most is when I became a dad. That was very defining. My daughter is now 32 years old and she’s an amazing mom and wife and I am proud to be her dad. That was definitely an amazing moment in life, to become a dad.

Is there a documentary or book that really changed the way you thought about something?

The Bible. In addition, most recently, what has been impactful for me is the documentary called Poverty Inc. It explores what helps and hurts in regards to those that are impoverished. Because of my interest in developing countries, it’s been good to look at resources like that and they feature resources that are good to look at.

What is your favorite thing about Root’s?

I have several, I think Roots drinks are awesome. All of their drinks are really good quality and that’s very important to me. I think that the workers here; they are all very friendly and engaging and that’s very important to me. I like the fact that this is a very relaxed environment and that you can be here for longer periods of time and not feel like you need to move on. And part of that has to do that with the high ceilings and space. You feel like you are in a place that is big enough for you versus some of the smaller shops. And people, there is just a sense of community here; that people know each other.

Leah Parker


Hey Everyone – This is Leah Parker. She an outstanding and fascinating person. You can probably find her sitting at the park chatting it up with the Roots team and creating some pretty awesome pieces of art. We asked her a few questions.

Sum yourself up in two sentences.

I am an illustration student who really enjoys music and playing music. I am also interested in coffee and learning about that because I’m a nerd.

If you could identify with one fictional character who would it be and why?

Ohhhh, probably Alice from Alice in Wonderland because I’m curious about everything. I also like the pictures in the book.

What is one word you would use to describe yourself? Why?

I feel like this is going to sound really hipstery and kind of pretentious but I feel like I would go with “original” because that’s the one word I really identify with. I haven’t met anyone really similar to me. So, I’m borrowing the word original.

What is one thing that has made you a stronger person?

That is an intense question. I went through child abuse when I was really young and I think that recovering from that has strengthened me as a person and as an individual, especially with there being things I can’t do on my own. And also moving my whole life here [to Grand Rapids].

How has living in Grand Rapids positively impacted you?

Having to break out of my comfort zone and speak to people I wouldn’t normally has made me a more outgoing person. Having to make friends and talk to people, otherwise you wouldn’t have anyone in your life. I would say that has positively impacted me. And saying that strangers aren’t actually strangers.

What is your favorite thing about Roots?

I like that you guys actually talk to me. I kind of call it my home away from home because it kind of is. It’s more of a home than where I live right now. It’s a good space with good people. And the coffee’s not half bad either.

Andrew Montpetit


If you haven’t met Andrew yet our guess is you will soon! He hangs around Roots and various coffee shops regularly. He’s got a great creative mind and a big heart. We sat down with him and asked a few questions:

Sum yourself up in two sentences

Can one of the sentences be ‘I can’t be summed up in two sentences?’ I think that has to be one of them, because I just can’t be summed up in two sentences. You’ve dropped a bomb, gettin’ the cobwebs out of this one, *laughs.*

Okay, I’ve got it.

I am a child of God. I cannot be described in two sentences.

What is your profession and why did you choose it?

I’m a full time animator and post production specialist.

I have a really cool story because it wasn’t what I studied in college and I’ve never taken an art class. The animation thing I kind of fell into because it wasn’t what I was doing in the creative industry; actually, I studied business and marketing in college.


When I was younger I would make stop-motion, clay-mation videos with my dad’s camera. I would draw and use my hands, I just really enjoyed the creative stuff. I see different visions. I see scenes, or camera angles. Watching cartoons, it wasn’t just about the story lines. It was about the art style, the visualization. The way it looks is just as important as the plot. For example, the Batman animated series really hit me.

My first goal in life was always to be a provider. Fulfilling myself was never my first goal. I was told growing up that artists don’t make a lot of money, the whole starving artist thing. Because I wanted to be a provider, being an artist wasn’t an option because the goal was to be a provider.

But, how I know that this is what I was meant for was because it was a calling that just never really went away. It’s always been apart of who I am.

Andrew went to school for medical, theology, business and marketing studies (Aquinas college for studies), and went on to an internship in Chicago, moved to Detroit and worked in the radio business, moved to Grand Rapids and became a server and came to the conclusion that, in the end, this is what he was made for.

My mind works so differently than other peoples. What comes so naturally to me is so hard for so many people. I just know I was built for it.

Would you say that becoming a freelance artist is one of the biggest risks you’ve ever taken? What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

Absolutely. Becoming a freelance artist, getting into the creative profession because it could have totally bombed. I had absolutely nothing to go on. For years, I tried to shake this but I can’t because it’s a part of who I am. If I was a betting man, the odds would not be in my favor because I didn’t go to school for it. Some of it was luck but the people in my life helped me get here.

If you could only keep five possessions, what would they be?

  1. My car
  2. One of my computers
  3. Bible
  4. Crucifix
  5. Rosary

Who is your favorite director? What is your favorite movie right now?

  • David Fincher– I think his style is really interesting
  • Christopher Nolan– Batman
  • The Russo Brother’s
  • The Cohan Brother’s
  • Wes Anderson

Recently, it’s called “Arrival.” There are movies and then there are actual pieces of art and this one is a masterpiece. It’s beautiful because it starts conversations, art is supposed to take you beyond itself. True art and true beauty goes beyond itself. This is something that is really cool because it was masterfully done. Everything worked so well; the cinematography was stunning. I love a good story and the story was great. It is one of communication; it shows how important it is to understand what the other person is saying and how wrong things can go with poor communication.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

*chuckles* This may not be my most embarrassing moment but this is definitely AN embarrassing moment. When I was younger, growing up we grew up in the suburb and we lived in the more low-end neighborhood of these mansion houses. I was a freshman and I was picking someone up for school and I didn’t feel very good. I was driving and I was just like “I don’t feel very good” and my sister was just like “man,  are you okay?” and I just pull up into a mansion’s driveway and I just hurled all over my lap. I couldn’t just throw up all over myself and I started throwing up on their driveway. I called my mom to come pick me up,  and she, being the good mom she is says “strip your pants off.” I was like, “what, are you crazy?” and she responded “Strip off your pants and get in the trunk [of the mini van]” and so I took my pants off and had to walk in front of all these cars with my pants off.

What is your favorite thing about Root’s?

Oh my gosh. My favorite thing about Root’s is that they don’t try to be so perfect and I think that’s what I really love about this place. It’s like your living room. You’ve got mixed matched chairs; it’s got a very homey feel, a warm feel to it. It’s got a lot to do with Mallory and an expression of herself and how it all leads into every part of the shop. It feels like your living room. There’s a difference between a house and a home and it feels like a home. A house is sterile and lifeless and a home is full of life and this feels like a home.

Our Friend Julie


We would like to introduce you to our friend Julie. It’s always a joy when she comes to the shop.

Sum yourself up in two sentences.

I think of myself as a creator, which is kind of vague and open ended. I’m still learning what that means.

What is one of your biggest life accomplishments?

Thus far, honestly, I personally struggle with various mental health things and I think to still be here is big accomplishment for me.

What is some sort of advice you would offer to someone who is also struggling with their mental health?

It’s tricky because everyone’s situation is so different but I think I would just want people to keep trying and know that it’s worth it to keep trying. There are people out there who get it and people who want to be there for you. It just takes finding them.

What is the biggest compliment you can give yourself and why?

I would say, ‘Julie, you feel everything so deeply and sometimes that’s scary but it’s also really powerful and if you use that empathy, you can do great things’.

Who or what inspires you?

I could say a lot of different things but my brain keeps going back to my mom. She has always been super inspiring to me. Just watching her fight through the struggles of her own life and maintain a marriage and family has always been really important to me. I think I get a lot of my empathy and creator spirit from her. She’s the type of person who will go to the football game and cry because one team has to lose. I love that kind of way of thinking, even though it’s not considered typical. That’s just who she is unapologetically.

What is your favorite thing about Roots?

I like that it’s so open. There is space to breathe and exist that I don’t find in a lot of places. I come here by myself and I don’t feel uncomfortable in that. I’m on the autism spectrum and there is safety and less judgement here than other places.

Scott Biggerstaff


We want to introduce you to one of our friends here at Roots, Scott Biggerstaff.

Here’s his interview:

Sum yourself up in two sentences.

If I were to describe myself, I would use the word “gumption.” Gumption.

I’m not sure you can modify it to make it an adjective. Unctuous? Haha, no. That is way off.

What is one thing that has made you a stronger person?

Failure, I guess. That seems like a stereotypical answer for that question. But, I think just generally, just taking risks and falling short a lot. Just being reflective, I guess, and taking failure as an opportunity to grow.

If you could identify with one fictional character who would it be and why?

If I could Identify with one, uhhh, Sam Wise from the Hobbit. I’m not sure how much we have in common but I like him a lot.

What does joy mean to you?

What does joy mean to me? I would say it’s a willful, rosey outlook choice to see and facilitate brightness.

I have a friend, Mike*, who has chronic headaches and is in a lot of pain pretty often. He was pretty depressed for awhile and has talked about the constant daily need to choose joy, to be excited about his life; the things he gets to do and the people he encounters. I haven’t ever really given a whole lot of thought to what joy is. I think it’s important to choose but I don’t think it’s a concept I’ve ever really tried to define.

*Name changed for privacy of friend

Who or what inspires you?

Have you ever seen the movie Zoolander? That’s not what inspires me, but there’s a part where they ask Hansel “What inspires you?” and I think he says “Sting,” the artist and that it’s not that he necessarily listens to his music but he’s inspired by the fact that he makes it [music] and I think that’s pretty funny.
I think I’m inspired by people that are better than me at things. Like, it pushes me to work harder and read more, engage more thoughtfully.

What is your favorite thing about Grand Rapids?

Probably the friends I’ve made here. That feels pretty cliche, but I’ve met a lot of cool people who are very welcoming. I think maybe the most endearing thing about good friends is how much they like you and how much it’s surprising by how much they like you. I’ve made friends and I’m like “man, these people, like, really like me and I don’t get it.” So I think that. I’ve made a lot of friends that really like me and it makes me feel really warm and fuzzy inside.

Why did you choose your profession?

Honestly, I was really into the show House at the time and the show Scrubs. So, it was basically tv. You’re not supposed to say that when you interview for med-school.

*I, who didn’t know you had to be interviewed to get into med-school, asked about that*

They ask you questions about how you had an interaction with a physician who showed you dignity and passion or “how you want to help people.” And while all of that is true, I want to help people, the real inspiration was liking House and Scrubs.

Do you enjoy what you do?

Yeah. I mean, I’m not doing it yet but I think I will really enjoy it. I’m beginning to enjoy the studying. It’s hard to learn something that is so broad, something that you have to lay such a big foundation for before you can even start doing it. You know, when you learn anything you sort of attach this scaffolding that you sort of already have. Learning is sort of building off of something you already know. So in medicine, you need a huge base of biological, chemistry knowledge and then you have to tack on top of that all this physiology, bio-physiology, all these concepts from physics and this patho-physiology stuff which is a lot of micro-biology and there’s so much of it that it takes awhile to establish that scaffolding to appreciate and enjoy what you’re learning and to think new things. Because mostly you’re just trying to transfer things from all of the books and teachers and online resources into your brain and they just all tell you what to think and what to know and so at a certain point you begin to decide for yourself what’s important, beyond that, and then you can start to learn and invest energy in a way that’s a little more satisfying and not as punishing. I think I’m getting to that point and I have no reason to be studying right now, but I do it, because I want to be good at what I do. It’s inherently rewarding to learn this stuff and to lock it away and know it well enough to be able to improvise and think new thoughts.

Outside of medicine, what are other things you are passionate about?

I became a Christian through Young Life in high school and I wanted to pay it forward in college and I became involved in youth ministry and got really into mentorship. I had a small group of guys that I started leading when they were in the sixth grade and then led them all the way through their senior year of high school. So, I’m pretty into that. Soccer, I love some good soccer. I love coffee.

What music are you listening to right now?

I listen to my discover weekly on my Spotify right now. I don’t really know many of the bands on there which is kind of the point but I’ve been listening to some ambient stuff. I think the last couple of albums I bought were:

We Got it From Here…. Thank You 4 Your Service– A Tribe Called Quest

Pure Comedy– John Misty

A Seed at the Table– Solange Knowles

What is your favorite thing about Roots Brew Shop?

At Wednesday wine night, I told Mallory and Hillary a list of why it’s a good coffee shop. I think I talked about the outlet situation. I just like you guys, coming in and knowing the people behind the counter. It’s like coming into your home and being made a cup of coffee so I can read and study. That’s probably my favorite part.


Scott has now moved to Kansas City to begin his residency work. He was such a joy to see in the shop and to visit with. He also always wore stellar socks. Thanks for all your visits and great conversations, best of luck to you Scottie!!

And…. We’re Back

Dang! Time seems to slip by so quickly. It’s already been a year and a few months since we opened our doors here on the west side of Grand Rapids and it has been an amazing journey thus far. This past year has been filled with joy and stress, tears and laughter, and more gratitude than we could ever have expected. The outpouring of support we’ve received has been incredible! By far the most inspiring thing has been meeting the people who have started to call Roots Brew Shop home. It’s a beautiful thing to watch the community here at Roots grow.

As we expected there is a learning curve that accompanies starting and running your own business. We never would have been able to make it happen without the outstanding support system that has surrounded us. The people who have given us their time, their seasoned advice, a helping hand, and most importantly patronage. We can not thank you all enough. You give us the confidence and courage to continue on; to always strive for better and to expect more from ourselves.

When reflecting on what to express to people about the shop and how our first year has gone it’s a bit overwhelming. There is so much to share! If I had to pick one thing above all else that has had the greatest impact I would have to say the people; the folks who make Roots what it is. When we started this shop, we set out to create a place where community could gather and where all people felt comfortable and welcomed. It is awe inspiring to see it become a reality.

From the beginning we have been blessed with an amazing staff. We could not have asked for better. Everyone who has worked here has filled this place with compassion and love, joy and laughter. They have embraced the vision and culture that is Roots and live it out in everything they do. This shop would not be what it is without them. If you’ve ever visited the shop then you know how great they all are! A huge thank you to everyone who has been or is currently part of the Roots team. You are all incredible and the shop is a better place because of you.

A member of our team recently commented on what makes Roots Brew Shop so unique. She said it is our ability to make a simple business transaction something personal. We don’t just sell someone a cup of coffee or a bagel (which are both phenomenal!), we want to know that person. We want our customers to be part of Roots Brew Shop. As a result, a visit to Roots becomes much more about a visit with friends than it does about getting a caffeine fix. That’s our goal.

There would be no purpose to being open if there was no one to serve. Our customers are the reason we are in business. They are the reason we employ such an outstanding staff. We have met so many exceptional and intriguing people here at Roots. We have wonderful regulars who frequent the shop and new people visiting daily. The people who come through Roots all carry with them such different stories and have so much offer. It’s beautiful when a customer shares a part of their story with us.

We want to share with all of you some of the people who make Roots unique. We want to give you a glimpse into the community of Roots Brew Shop. So we have decided to start featuring various people in the Roots community on our blog. You will get a peek into who they are. You might discover something pretty amazing about them or realize you have something in common. You may even have the courage to say “Hey” to them the next time you see them in the shop. So keep an eye out for our first feature which will be posted within the week.

As always, thank you to everyone who has supported us and those who continue to do so! Thank you to our frequent customers and we look forward to meeting those who have yet to visit. Until next time friends.