It’s not like Greg Buchheister doesn’t already rule the roast.
After all, he owns six Coffeebar shops, plus a roastery and a bakery, across Reno, Truckee and Silicon Valley (including a shop on the Facebook campus). But at his seventh Coffeebar, opening Feb. 7 on South McCarran Boulevard, he’ll rule the roast in a different way: He won’t be a tenant.
Last fall, Buchheister purchased the building that once housed The Lucky Childe, a kid friendly coffee spot, for $1.3 million. The purchase marks the first time Buchheister has owned the premises occupied by a Coffeebar operation.
The latest shop also is the largest Coffeebar, at 3,600 square feet, with huge picture windows, roll-up garage doors giving onto a roomy terrace, and a soaring ceiling ribbed by beams clad in stained alder.
Did Buchheister need a seventh shop in which to rule the roast? Especially one so large? He did.
“If you have one location, you need 10,” Buchheister said. “If you have a company, and you want to have a 401K and health insurance, you need to have several locations to get to that level. Our job is to be successful and run a profitable business for our employees.”
The new Coffeebar also takes shape two years after Buchheister’s 3-year-old son died of complications from the flu.
“Continuing to grow Coffeebar, it’s not to distract me from my grief, but creating these spaces to bring people together helps,” he said. “To be in these places and be as present as you can be. In the moment.”
Doing pizza for the first time
Coffeebar No. 7, at 9620 S. McCarran Boulevard, is in the Monte Vista center, where West Fourth Street meets McCarran, where Northwest Reno begins.
The building purchase included coffee making equipment, lightly used refrigerators, and children’s toilets (handy for the family-rich Northwest) left behind by The Lucky Childe. Even the layout set up by the former tenant was ideal.
“I thought, ‘Who designed this?’ It turned out it was a former employee who was moonlighting,” Buchheister said. “All we needed to do was add coffee. It was a very fortuitous space. I guess I am the lucky child.'”
One piece of new equipment, the most significant piece, is an electric pizza oven, another first for Coffeebar. The pizza program is being drawn from Dopo Pizza & Pasta, the Midtown restaurant (previously Food & Drink) that also is in the Buchheister portfolio.
“The old Food & Drink owner trained us in pizza, and then we were off to the races,” Buchheister said. “I’ve always wanted to do pizza at Coffeebar. It provides a whole additional day-part of Coffeebar.”
A divider with cranks and calls
A striking assemblage, fashioned from reclaimed pier wood, partitions the order area from the dining room at Coffeebar Northwest. Andy Cline, a master furniture maker from Lake Tahoe and a longtime Coffeebar collaborator, built the assemblage.
On one side, the divider is set with a sculpted Coffeebar lion, with rejiggered engine parts set with a crankshaft, and with a onetime school bus tire, its open center framing a view of the vintage tricycle (complete with huge front wheel) commanding the dining room.
The other side of the assemblage is affixed with the remains of 80s electronica: a mixer board, circuit boards, a turntable, tweeters, subwoofers and a Polycom phone that folks can pick up to hear recorded messages.
The interactive partition is at once art and artefact, Steampunk and upcycling — and much of it is composed of items Cline saved over the years.
“I think we’re going to call it the Time Machine,” he said. “It’s going to draw people in to have a fun time.”
Talking, not tapping or swiping
The Time Machine is just one example of makers making their mark at the new Coffeebar.
A glittery image of the Coffeebar lion, from the first shop in Truckee in 2010, has come down-mountain to take pride of place. A Burning Man bicycle is being readied as a chandelier. Tables have been refinished and inlaid with Coffeebar indicia.
And old-fashioned glass-front turn-key mailboxes have been remade into lockers where people can stash their devices.
“It’s an invitation to put your cellphone away and really connect with the person you’re sitting across from,” Buchheister said.
Two years after personal tragedy, two years after business setbacks because of COVID (scuttled plans for Coffeebar Rancharrah and a California roastery), Buchheister said what’s most important at the new shop is connecting with other people.
Over a cup of coffee (and now, a slice of ‘za).