Midtown Detroit coffee shop needs help to reopen after sewer leak closes them for months

Posted at 5:55 PM, Jan 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 17:55:59-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A coffee shop that’s been open in Midtown for about seven years had to shut down their business. They say a punctured sewer line caused a leak through their floorboards.

The Bottom Line Coffee House has hit rock bottom after the sewage leak closed their doors since September.

“Appalling, it smells, it’s disgusting,” That’s how Kyle Harris describes what it was like when sewage leaked into the shop.

He and his family opened Bottom Line Coffee House back in 2012.

“Every time we got knocked down, our community always picks us back up.”

Before the leak, they noticed some plumbing issues.

“Did everything we could internally, change our toilet twice, we reach out to the landlord to help us out to see if it was something in the building.”

Then they found a bigger problem.

“At least an inch, inch and half of sewage. Semi-solid sewage sitting on our floor.”

The building’s owner, Scott Lowell, hired a private contractor to figure out the issue. They dug up the ground and learned Rocket Fiber contractors punctured a sewer line when they installed cable.

Lowell said he had to close some lower units and is out $300,000 because of the issue.

Now, Kyle is looking at $20,000 to reopen the place he already put so much blood, sweat and tears into.

“All the hard work, all the hours, Lord knows how favors I had to call in just to get the doors open.”

He is asking for one more favor through a GoFundMe page:

The money is needed for cleaning, disinfecting, repairing all the damaged areas, getting new cabinets and new inventory.

Kyle says the shop has been a staple in the neighborhood, even a place to get a free cup of joe thanks to their pay it forward collection.

“The community is the most important portion of the Bottom Line, not us, not my family not the money that we make it is them. Because without them, there is no us.”

Rocket Fiber acknowledged the issue and sent us this statement:

Rocket Fiber was made aware of the damages to Bottom Line Coffee House in mid-October of last year. We immediately led an internal investigation that revealed that one of our underground contractors unknowingly and accidently struck an improperly marked sewer service line during the initial fiber install back in 2015. This was an accident, and we do not believe that Rocket Fiber is at fault due to the line not being marked in accordance with state law.

However, as a fellow Detroit startup, we understand the importance of partnering with and helping the local entrepreneurial ecosystem grow, and want to find a solution for Bottom Line. We filed a claim with our own insurance company, and have been responsive and transparent with Bottom Line leadership as we navigate the claim process. In addition, we offered to work with Bottom Line and cover the initial water damages to help get them back up and running as soon as possible. This conversation took place earlier last week (1/09), and Bottom Line agreed that they would get back to us with a number in the next 48 hours. At this point, we are waiting to hear back - and have continued to follow up - and are hopeful that we will be able to work together to help Bottom Line reopen their doors.

The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department issued this statement:

During Rocket Fiber’s construction on Third Avenue in August 2015, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) marked the location of the public sewer through a Miss Dig request. The city-owned sewer is more than 30-feet below grade and therefore well below where Rocket Fiber was working. Property owners are responsible for the sewer line from their building to the connection at the city’s sewer pipe. It is not the utility’s responsibility to mark the location of the private lines.