River Maiden leases former B of A branch

Cafe will sell ‘coffee shares’ to raise $250,000 for improvements

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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River Maiden Artisan Coffee is getting a new home — but not without some help.

The cafe, known locally for pop culture laden marketing usually built from 1980s music and movies, has been without an official home since June 21. It has operated a drive-thru since July.

Cafe owners Melissa Layman and Aaron Flies said Monday that they secured a multiyear lease for the former Bank of America building at 5301 E. Mill Plain Blvd. The new site is walking distance from River Maiden’s old location, which shut down in June after lease negotiations fell apart.

Layman said opening day for the new, 2,500-square-foot cafe is “fluid.” Doors could open between November and January, and Layman said they are keeping it vague because there is a long list of repairs. The former bank needs new wiring, handicap-accessible bathrooms, and new floors, at least, she said.

“It’s a huge project, but we’re really excited for it,” she said.

Repair costs could approach $250,000, prompting some creative fundraising. River Maiden plans to sell “coffee shares,” where customers buy an allotment of coffees — a month’s worth, for example — before the doors open.

“Yeah, they’re going to be supporting us by buying their future coffees,” she said, adding that buying in bulk will be discounted. Buying the shares won’t be like buying stock in a company; there won’t be any stake of ownership up for grabs.

Layman said the idea was inspired by Minnesota bar Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub, which crowdsourced its startup costs by selling a pint of beer for life for $1,000 up front.

The new building will come with a drive-thru and a vault, for which the owners haven’t yet found a purpose. They are also considering building a commercial kitchen, though that could come in 2018.