Business brisk at ‘pop-up’ coffee shop

See why organizers put together this idea, at Crossroads Plaza, in Lents. Discover why it symbolizes neighbors’ aspirations for their Town Center …

An unexpectedly large number of patrons come to Crossroads Plaza in Lents for a cup of java when a “pop-up coffee shop” opens for just that day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

It was one of those lovely winter Saturdays – one that felt like late springtime. On the morning of March 7, at the usually-dormant Crossroads Plaza in Lents, which was that day full of life.

Sitting at a table, and taking in the sunshine, was Lents Neighborhood Association Chair Jesse Cornett. “I don’t hear of any greater need from my neighbors than wanting a neighborhood coffee shop,” he remarked.

At a very informal meeting with area folks, Lents Neighborhood Association Chair Jesse Cornett introduces many to the relatively-new information kiosk.

He and friends were talking about it the day before, Cornett told East Portland News, “and we thought we could do a fun ‘pop-up event’ – showing that there is demand for neighborhood coffee shop that serves good coffee. It’s a simple idea; not at all complex.”

Starting a coffee shop isn’t that difficult, Cornett acknowledged. “But, there are many challenges for an owner to keep a shop running successfully.”

Although it was constructed and installed late last fall, many people stopped to look at the Crossroads Plaza Kiosk. “It’s both a sculpture, and an information center,” Cornett said. “A Walmart Community Grant funded the project three years ago; we finally got it designed by a local architect and constructed by a local craftsman.”

This busy barista, serving up drink after drink, is Natasha Stille, from Nectar Café.

The long-time home to the Lents Little League, and now a vacant lot, may finally see development that includes ground-floor retail space.

Has hopes for Urban Renewal to begin
Cornett voiced what many in the Lents neighborhood have murmured: Not much has come of the grand plans for the Town Center area.

“This Urban Renewal District was opened at the same time the Pearl District,” Cornett pointed out. “We haven’t seen the same success.

“But we are, I believe, on the cusp of having development start,” Cornett mused. “For example, a developer is tentatively working on a plan to put in 400 housing units and ground floor retail here [on the now-vacant former Lents Little League lot, next to the Wattles Boys & Girls Club].

The City of Portland and owners of a new baseball club promise to make $650,000 worth of improvements to Charles B. Walker Stadium, which they’ll be using during the 2016 season.

When the notion of upgrading the Charles B. Walker Stadium in Lents Park to bring a baseball team to the Rose City was championed several years ago by Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard, some neighbors said they were concerned about vehicle congestion and parking on game days.

On March 25, a team in the Great West League made a deal with the City of Portland to bring a yet-to-be-named summer collegiate wood-bat league team to Walker Stadium.

The Lents Neighborhood Association continues to be in favor of upgrading this stadium, their chair says.

The City and Rose City Baseball agreed to make $650,000 worth of improvements to the stadium, including new chair-back seating, the addition of group event areas, a new scoreboard, team offices, a new press box, new concession services, new dugouts, a major league backstop, a new irrigated grass playing surface, and a children’s play area, according to Portland Parks & Recreation spokesman Mark Ross.

“The Rose City Baseball team will contribute $400,000; Portland Development Commission will put in $200,000; and, Portland Parks & Recreation will add $50,000 worth of improvements,” Ross said.

About this project, Cornett commented, “The neighborhood association’s board has consistently been in favor of upgrading Walker Stadium. Like when the idea was proposed in the past, we’ve been supportive of baseball.”

The league will use the spruced-up stadium facilities for 30 games per season, Cornett, pointed out. “The community gets to use the improved area throughout the year.”

During the “pop-up coffee shop” Plum Portland neighborhood caterers Erik Smykal and Jennifer Dean offer baked treats to customers.

As he watched the serpentine line of customers for the “pop-up coffee shop” grow throughout the morning, Cornett smiled and said, “I hope having events here helps business people that there is a real need for a neighborhood coffee shop.”

To keep yourself up-to-date on activities in the Lents neighborhood, attend the meeting held at 7:00 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month (April 28 is their next meeting) at the Lents Activity Center, 8835 SE Woodstock Boulevard. Or, see their website (CLICK HERE). You can contact Chair Jesse Cornett at Jesse@ilovelents.com.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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