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Brown Bee Coffee to open in May, following months-long community buzz

New artisan cafe to offer unique coffee blend, refined baked goods, merch

First announced in April 2023, Brown Bee now aims to open by late May, prior to Brown’s spring 2024 commencement ceremonies.
Courtesy of Waleed Ghazi
First announced in April 2023, Brown Bee now aims to open by late May, prior to Brown’s spring 2024 commencement ceremonies. Courtesy of Waleed Ghazi

For months, residents of College Hill have been buzzing with excitement over the announcement of Brown Bee Coffee — a new cafe and bakery set to open at 404 Benefit St.. 

Brown Bee was first announced in April 2023, with an opening date scheduled for November of that same year. But, supply-chain setbacks and equipment licensing delayed the opening by several months, explained owner Waleed Ghazi. 

The cafe now aims to open by late May, prior to Brown’s spring 2024 commencement ceremonies, Ghazi shared in an interview with The Herald.

Ghazi attributed the delays to challenges achieving the unique “cafe culture” and ambiance he envisioned for Brown Bee. “Had we just opened a coffee shop, it would have been a lot easier and more streamlined,” he said. To Ghazi, the cafe should be “a place people want to go every day and spend time in.” 


But Brown Bee is not just a coffee shop. “Brown Bee is a lifestyle,” Ghazi said. 

Beyond offering traditional coffee beverages, such as its signature dark roast “Buzz Blend,” the cafe will also feature a full bakery and kitchen, allowing for in-house baked eats. 

In particular, Ghazi hopes the new eatery will transform New England’s “croissant scene,” which he found was “lacking compared to (its counterparts) in Asia and Europe,” he said. 

The cafe also hopes to incorporate a walk-in only, limited weekend brunch menu. While the details are still not finalized, Ghazi said that it will “be an experience that’s slightly more elevated than your classic cafe breakfast.” 

Ghazi also shared that Brown Bee will offer a curated clothing collection that “elevates the classic cafe merch (where) you would just find a cap and a t-shirt by the register.”

Curated as a nod to the historical district of Providence, Brown Bee will be both “modern” and “timeless,” with the hope that “50 years from now, the space will look special in its own way,” he added. He noted that Brown Bee has collaborated with New Orleans-based lighting designers Bevolo to revamp the streetlamps outside of the cafe with gas flames. He hopes this will add character to the exterior of the building and enhance the feel of the historical district.

Ghazi also described his plans for other renovation projects, such as transforming vintage mail sorters into a coffee register and repurposing centuries-old chimney bricks for exterior and interior decor. 

But not all projects have run smoothly, Ghazi explained. At more than 200 years old, the building occupied by Brown Bee was built using post-and-beam construction — a form of architecture that requires many supportive posts. This ran contrary to Ghazi’s vision of an open layout, requiring the team to “redo the entire structure of the building.”

But a background in real estate and construction allowed Ghazi to “navigate through the construction part of Brown Bee a lot more stress-free than a new owner … renting a space,” he explained. Ghazi’s real-estate company, Ghazi Property Group, owns Brown Bee’s building. As a result he “felt that (his) ideas came to fruition a lot more.” 

In fact, Ghazi first conceived of Brown Bee in 2022, after his company first purchased the property and started to receive offers from local businesses seeking to rent the space. “That led me to think that … maybe this is my sign to get into the food industry,” Ghazi said. 


Brown Bee will join a multitude of local businesses serving coffee to the College Hill and Fox Point communities. 

Autumn Qiu ’25, who frequents Ceremony and Starbucks for their specialty drinks and productive atmospheres, looks forward to having another cafe around. “I like to study in coffee shops,” she wrote in an email to The Herald. “The sound of people’s conversation is like white noise for me and I can really focus.”

Qiu first came across Brown Bee on the way to Trader Joe’s and plans to visit when it opens. She is looking forward to “cozy study spaces” and “good music.” She also hopes that Brown Bee will offer higher quality drinks than the “over-extracted” coffee she has found at some other cafes in Providence.

For Gaby Choi ’26, a frequenter of Coffee Exchange on Wickenden Street, price is one of the main factors when deciding where to get her caffeine buzz. “Coffee is so overpriced almost everywhere now,” she wrote in a message to The Herald.

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“I’m looking forward to seeing (Brown Bee’s) interior design and workspaces,” Moonhee Kim ’26 wrote in a message to The Herald. “I think coffee shops say so much about a city’s character, and I hope Brown Bee adds to the authenticity of Providence.”

Tom Li

Tom Li is a Metro Editor covering the Health & Environment and Development & Infrastructure beats. He is from Pleasanton, California, and is concentrating in Economics and International & Public Affairs. He is an avid RIPTA passenger and enjoys taking (and criticizing) personality tests in his free time.

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