BROWNSBURG, Ind. -- Have you ever shared a dream with your best friend, in which someday you’ll do something big? Together.
Most of us likely have-- whether it was as a kid or as a young adult, ready to take on the world. Although in most cases, life gets in the way and those dreams never come to fruition.
But this isn’t that kind of story.
This one is about two best friends who met at Purdue, shared a dream and made it happen. All it took was a few extra years of wisdom, a weekend boat trip, and a little bit of liquid courage— and we're not talking about the coffee you can buy at their shop.
Today, we’re off to Best Friends Coffee & Bagels, located at 1060 E. Main Street in Brownsburg for this trip "In Your Neighborhood."
“After a night of hanging out-- and a couple drinks-- Bob was like, ‘Hey man, lets open up a coffee shop,’ and of course I immediately said, ‘Let’s do it!” recalled Co-Owner Chicao Mbanu. “The next morning he said, ‘So what’s up with that coffee shop?’ and I was like ‘What coffee shop?”
“That coffee shop” is Best Friends Coffee & Bagels. It’s a dream realized by Mbanu and his best friend and Co-Owner, Bob Goodpaster.
Believe it or not, however, they actually almost named the shop something else.
“We are best friends but we don’t even call ourselves best friends. We call ourselves brothers,” Mbanu explained. “Initially, we were going to call ourselves Brothers but-- as you know-- there’s a bar and restaurant called Brothers so the next best thing was Best Friends. So, that’s how we came up with the name.”
The duo wanted to create a space that was inviting, energetic and unpretentious, with a personal touch.
“You’re going to see pieces of this shop that are part of our lives. Not only the Boilermaker seats, but our love for the military… You’re going to see that here,” said Mbanu. “And you’re going to see our love for Brownsburg.”
And Brownsburg has shown its love right back.
“In all honesty, I couldn’t ask for a better town to have it in. Not just the people, but the local businesses… Everyone, all local businesses here, they want the other local businesses to win,” he explained. “For a local business with community roots here, you can’t ask for a better place.”
Goodpaster even reached out to his fellow residents on the Brownsburg Chatter Facebook page and asked what they wanted to see in their new coffee shop.
And the answer was food!
“In fact, we were just going to be a coffee shop and because of ‘[Brownsburg] Chatter,’ we decided to make it a coffee and bagel shop as well because that’s what people were asking for,” said Goodpaster.
So, in addition to drinks like their top-selling Cuban Cappuccino and Vietnamese Cold Brew, you can also order bagels, pastries or a delicious sandwich named after important people in their lives.
Like “The Mother-in-Law”, named in honor of Goodpaster’s mother-in-law.
“She was probably the biggest complainer out of any of our customers. In fact, we put out a complaint box and labeled it ‘Ruby’, which is my mother in law’s name… She was always complaining, ‘You guys don’t have chicken salad, why don’t you have chicken salad?” Goodpaster jokingly recalled. “So we created The Mother-In-Law, which is a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant with onion and lettuce.”
It also happens to be one of their most popular menu items.
For a little spice, opt for ‘The Son-In-Law’, made with Chorizo, salsa picante, egg, fresh avocado and cheddar on an Asiago bagel. You can even meet its namesake, Bob’s actual-son-in law, Juan, who is also the General Manager here.
Traditional breakfast sandwich lovers will love ‘The Crazy B’. But if you want the whole shebang, go for their signature breakfast sandwich called ‘The Wolfpack’— named after their tight-knit group of friends back at Purdue.
Other sandwiches are named in honor of their children, dear friends, and other special individuals in their lives.
For the kids, they have several menu options that will certainly be a hit. Naturally, several of them are named after important kids in their own lives.
“The Princess Sunshine, The Mathematics, The Crazy Man. Those are named after our children,” Goodpaster noted.
The ‘Rockin’ Ralph'—which is a pulled chicken sandwich on your choice of open-faced bagel—is an homage to their friend, Ralph Blythe, who recently passed away.
“The ‘Bart’s Journey’ is named after Chico’s father, representing the journey that his family made from Nigeria to the United States and he wanted to pay homage to his father,” explained Goodpaster.
The also offer items like their much-loved biscuits and gravy, which some customers have dubbed “The best in Hendricks County.”
Best Friends serves both breakfast and lunch items—like their newly introduced Chicago-style hot dogs-- but you can get anything off the breakfast menu until 3pm.
They also have vegan and vegetarian friendly options, as well as Keto-friendly menu options.
“We have Asiago Keto bread, the every seed Everything bread and the regular Keto bread.. and you can get any of our sandwiches on Keto bread,” Goodpaster noted.
Before you leave, don’t forget to check out their separate cozy lounge space, complete with cozy couches, stacks of board games, and lots of sports memorabilia.
“[It’s] kind of the chill lounge right here, where students and people can come in and get together, have study sessions if they so want to. Or they can just chill out on their laptops or with their headsets or what-not,” Mbanu said.
Large groups can even rent out the space—free of charge.
“Come hang out, be free…We’re kind of like, ‘This is your home,” Mbanu explained with a smile. “It’s kind of like Cheers, [where] everyone knows your name and they’re glad you came.”
Four Things You Need to Know About Best Friends Coffee & Bagels:
- Co-Owners Chico Mbanu and Bob Goodpaster have been best friends since their years as students at Purdue University. Opening Best Friends Coffee & Bagels together was a longtime dream of theirs which came to fruition back in July of 2018. Ironically, Bob isn’t a huge fan of coffee—that’s Chico’s area of expertise. But if you’re looking for some non-coffee alternatives, they offer plenty of options such as refresher-style drinks, teas and smoothies.
- In addition to their breakfast and lunch sandwiches, they also offer pastries, biscuits and gravy (which some customers have dubbed “The best in Hendricks County”, soups and their newly-introduced authentic Chicago dogs. Plus, if you’re just craving breakfast, they serve it until 3pm every day!
- Their top selling coffees include the Vietnamese Cold Brew and Cuban Cappuccino. When it comes to the food menu, don’t expect run-of-the-mill names. Their sandwiches are named after some of the most important people in their lives. Some of the top sellers include The Mother-In-Law, The Son In Law, The Wolfpack, The Bulldog and the Crazy B.
- Best Friends Coffee & Bagels is open Monday-Friday from 6am-4pm and Saturday-Sunday from 7am-4pm. When you stop by to visit, don’t forget to check out their cool lounge area separate from the main café/dining area.
While in Brownsburg, check out these other locally-owned hot-spots, located within one mile of Best Friends Coffee & Bagels: