SCORE’s Client of the year is Kate Dupre, owner of Watercolor Cafe on Mackinac Island. The Watercolor Cafe is a seasonally operating restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and coffee bar by day, reopening as an Art Space by night with art events, kids’ classes, adult workshops, and do it yourself art. Classes are typically taught three evenings a week by local and regional artists, as well as Kate herself. The cafe menu features healthy and trendy items.  Their best seller was the Chipotle Turkey sandwich. Their freshly prepared Smoothie Bowls, a thick smoothie loaded up with fruit, granola, and coconut flakes, were also very popular.  Coffee was sourced from a local roaster, Hubbard Lake Coffee in Alpena. Watercolor Cafe has both outdoor and indoor seating options with a waterfront view.

Kate grew up as a seasonal resident of Mackinac Island, with her family spending the winter months in Florida. After attending Florida Gulf Coast University for graphic design, she used her degree working in different creative positions— creative advertising and marketing, freelance graphic design, social media management, and various art commissions. After college she spent more time on the island, working in restaurants but always having art or design jobs on the side. She always had a goal of utilizing her creative skills full time and working for herself.  In 2017 Kate started teaching step-by-step painting classes just for fun. The response was so encouraging that she decided to pursue a route where she could teach more full time.

The Watercolor Cafe building was previously home to a coffee shop–the JL Beanery–for over 20 years. When the business moved out and the building came up for lease, Kate’s dream for Watercolor Cafe blossomed. Continuing the momentum of the coffee shop offerings while utilizing the space in the evening for art classes would help the business be more viable.

Before coming to SCORE, she had already done some of her homework, penciled out a plan and started looking into a lease. Kate then used SCORE for assistance reviewing the lease and other aspects of the business. Kate states “SCORE helped me with things I didn’t have experience with such as negotiating a lease, financial projections, taxes and licenses and administrative points of owning a business.  We brainstormed marketing ideas, discussed employment needs, and fine-tuned the business model. The best part about SCORE is that I truly felt that everyone I met with had a genuine investment in my business and me.”  This year, the Watercolor Cafe is listed in the Mackinac Island Wedding Guide for private classes and space rental. It opened for the season in May, and a schedule of art events can be found on their website. Visit or follow on Instagram and Facebook.


SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, with more than 10,000 volunteers in 300 chapters. Tip of the Mitt SCORE has 23 volunteers and branches in Gaylord and St. Ignace. We have a great partnership with the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce where we meet in Petoskey. We do most of our mentoring in person with two mentors but some people need to do telephone or email mentoring.  SCORE is for the life of your business.  We have many clients that come back to see us intermittently when they are thinking about making a change.  Please call the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce to make an appointment at 231-347-4150. For Gaylord, call 989-731-0287.

Kate Dupre: Client of the Year