Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Grand Island’s Railside District continues to see new small businesses open.
Recently, Jose Rendon of Grand Island opened the Underground Cafe, 309 W. Third St.
Designed and constructed by Rendon, he has turned his little coffee shop into something different for his customers that also adds to the diversity of the many Railside District businesses.
Rendon said having a locally owned business that offers that freshness and flavor to the many beverages and food items that he offers is important, especially for a business he literally built from scratch by himself while working at another job. He used to operate a body shop that customized cars in Grand Island; the name included “underground.”
Underground Cafe’s specialties include waffles, pies, cake shakes, more than 20 latte flavors, croissant waffle sandwiches, chicken taco salads and much more.
Along with the lattes, the Underground Cafe also offers several flavors of hot cocoa, shakes and lemonades.
Something new is always on the menu.
The Underground Cafe has become an instant hit with the public since it opened last month.
On its Facebook page, customers rave about the coffee, the specialty lattes and the sandwiches.
Also, people are very taken with the friendly baristas.
As one Facebook review summed it up, “Great coffee, food, atmosphere, and staff!”
Off the ground quickly
The name for the establishment comes from his love of cars. Rendon also loves coffee.
He said wanted to open a coffee shop that served food, and the cafe came together quickly due to his love of coffee.
Once he learned that the building was available, Rendon quickly put together a business plan and within a month, he was ready to open his coffee shop. The cafe is self-financed.
Even though the minimalism of the Underground Cafe is apparent, Rendon packed his coffee shop with enough equipment to more than adequately service the public. He also designed the interior and carries his unique signature from his days of owning and operating a body shop, where he.
“We wanted to be completely different,” Rendon said. “There is nothing like it out there.”
This is Rendon’s first food-and-beverage establishment.
“Everything came together very quickly,” he said about opening Underground Cafe. “I can’t complain.”
Location was a draw
He also likes the shop’s location — Grand Island’s Railside District.
Over the past decade, entrepreneurs, business people, visionaries and dreamers have remade and rebranded Grand Island’s old downtown district, which older and period architecture was slowly decaying after years of abandonment as businesses disappeared from there to a blooming business environment along Highway 281, starting in the 1970s.
Rendon is just one of the many small business owners who saw something about the Railside District that made them want to invest and be part of an environment that is old, new and a fusion of the two.
“People want something nice and something different,” Rendon said.
To make his Underground Cafe a popular place, Rendon said he wants to create a “fun night” after 7 on Fridays and Saturdays, when the regular lighting will turned off for a special light display that he designed.
“We will have a lot of nice colors and music playing, along with coffee and food,” he said.
Rendon also said he wants to expand his breakfast menu to complement the many types of coffee products he serves.
“Everyone has been awesome since we have opened,” Rendon said. “We are getting a lot of support.”