Who is Mister Chang?
Do you know what we love? Great branding – branding that tells a story that’s different than the norm. It’s for this reason an obscure logo on Instagram caught our eye: Mr. Chang’s Coffee House.
Our curiosity was piqued. Who’s behind this unique brand choice and what’s their story? WHO IS MISTER CHANG?
Of course, we reached out and invited Mister Chang to come to our office – we had to learn more. The reply came from John Kennedy, the owner of Mister Chang’s, agreeing to meet with us and share his vision for the new coffeehouse and cafe coming to Fort Mill.
Who is John Kennedy?
John Kennedy is a local entrepreneur who has been in the Charlotte / Rock Hill area for the past 15 years but is originally from upstate New York. John has a laid back vibe, but don’t let his chill fool you – he’s traveled the world and has experienced some of the finest coffee and cuisine which has developed his critical eye for what’s good and not. When asked what qualifies him to be a restauranteur (having never owned a restaurant before) his answer was simple. “I’m a professional eater. I’ve eaten out for every meal over the last ten years.”
John’s consumerism has led him to identify that a restaurant must have five core elements to be successful – good food, good service, ease, value, and ambiance. Having spent much time in Fort Mill, John recognized the town’s explosion and the need to fill a void. “There weren’t a lot of places for teens and young adults to hang out, study or relax,” said John “Sure, there were a few generic coffee shops, but there weren’t many places that stayed open late, provided quality food and service, and had a calm atmosphere.”
With a clear concept in mind, the hunt for a location was on. Says John on the search, “I knew we wanted to be somewhere between the I-77 exit and Tega Cay.” The space John would lock on was in the Crossroads Plaza (at the corner of Gold Hill Road and 160) joining established and well-known restaurants like Sabor Latin Street Grill and Village Pizza. Since signing the paperwork, it’s been FULL ON. Looking at Mister Chang’s Instagram page, it’s clear they have gutted the space and are starting with a blank canvas.
Being that ambiance is one of the necessary five elements for a restaurant’s success, John is focusing on a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere which begins with communal seating. “I wanted to create a space that’s community-minded by offering seating that encourages interaction. I want everyone to feel welcome whether you’re a member of a local church, or a member of the LGBTQ community, an avid meat-eater or a vegan…all are welcome here in this space.”
If there’s one thing that John has learned during his worldly travels is that there’s far more that unites us than separates us – John sincerely wants Mister Chang’s to be a comfortable place for all. To tie his theme altogether, John has hired a well-known artist, Jen Hill to paint a fun, spunky mural on the primary wall to give the space a lively feel.
Food & Coffee
The core of any restaurant is, of course, its food and if you’re also a coffee house, well, the coffee. John has an established relationship with a farm in Indian Land (it’s owned by his cousin) which is where he’ll be sourcing much of his eggs and meat. The farm to fork concept is important to John, but he doesn’t want that to equate to being super expensive. Working with his chef Sofía Batres-Josifovski, they are putting together a menu that’s big on flavor and value by keeping the dishes at or under ten dollars.
As for the coffee, John says, “We’ll be serving hippie coffee. Great coffee without all the pomp.” His baristas will be well trained, and the local roaster they’ll be sourcing is Magnolia Coffee. Keeping in line with having an easy-going atmosphere for young adults, what you won’t find on the menu is alcohol. If you haven’t noticed, everything about this establishment is a little bit different and that’s exactly what John is after – everything is just a little bit quirky, which leads us back to the name… Mister Chang’s.
So… Who is Mister Chang Again?
The truth about Mister. Chang’s is the character is much like who John Kennedy is – a little bit of a rebel who doesn’t take himself too seriously.
Says John, on the name, “To me, if we called the restaurant, Fort Mill Diner or something, it doesn’t mean anything. Who cares? To me, this is all about having a bit of fun and not taking things too seriously – there are enough things in the world to be serious about. I’m a little indifferent about some things and being cookie cutter and following a path that agrees with everyone is not who I’ve ever been. In fact, many in my family have said I’m nuts for calling it Mister Chang’s in fear that people will think that we’re an Asian-style restaurant. Somehow, my gut tells me to be true to myself and own that we’re not trying to be like anyone else…plus, the name Mister Chang’s easily rolls off the tongue. Simply put, Mister Chang’s is all about good food, good people and good vibes. That’s who Mister Chang’s is.”
Mister Chang’s is Open For Business
If you’re as intrigued as we are, we recommend checking them out. Mister Chang’s will be announcing their grand opening soon, and when they do expect them to be opened daily from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM. We hope to see you there!
If you’d like to follow them and stay in the know about their grand opening, check out their Instagram page at @MisterChangsCoffeeHouse or visit their website, misterchangs.com