Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

February 1, 2013 at 12:28am

Keeping Up With The Coffeehouses: Cavanaugh's

KELLI HASKINS: She'll carry on Cavanaugh's Coffee House's friendly vibe. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Fans of the quiet coffeehouse will appreciate the offbeat serenity of Cavanaugh's Coffee House - provided, of course, that they manage to find the joint. Set back off the low-traffic end of North Stevens, the cafe sits behind Sherman Elementary on the corner of North 41st and North Cheyenne. Yes, it's the definition of "neighborhood coffee house." It has a corner store feel, as if Opie would burst in and show everyone his tadpole. Built in the 1920's, the building has housed a salon, hardware store, daycare and real estate office.

In 2006, Linda and Mike Soden moved their coffee cart business at Sixth and Orchard into the building, furnished it with re-used furniture for folks to sit and eat salads, bagels, sandwiches and drink espresso variations.

Cavanaugh's ain't fancy, but its comfortably lazy feel encourages strident leisure. On any fair day, the quiet patio is a great place to take in the fresh air while listening to the occasional child's laugh or dog bark.

The Soden have become family to many in the neighborhood. Ask anyone, and they'd tell you the Sodens care deeply about the community and employees - especially barista Kelli Haskins, who will be taking over the business this month. Rest assured, Haskins comes equipped with Soden hospitality. The 20-somehting is eager to please, and can jump into any conversation with ease.

The Weekly Volcano caught up with Haskins as she eagerly eases into coffee house ownership.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: How did you get your start in the coffee field?

KELLI HASKINS: At age 16 I worked at Char Burger in Cascade Locks, Oregon - in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, where I grew up.  I served espresso along with homemade fudge and desserts. From there I moved into Portland at age 18 to pursue a different line of work in the coffee industry - working as a delivery driver for local roaster K&F Select fine coffees. Being a small business means sometimes things happen where you can't pay for all of the employees, and since I was the last one hired I got the boot after we had introduced a new product that didn't take off the way we had hoped. After that I touched basis with one of my customers and began to work for his small coffee company in downtown Portland before venturing up to Tacoma to work for the big dogs, Tully's coffee. Working for the corporation made me really miss the local vibe.

VOLCANO: What do you miss most about Tully's?

HASKINS: Truly, the thing that I will miss about Tully's is the friends I've made, and the people I encountered that have made me love Tacoma. So many different people make their way downtown for many different reasons, but they all love coffee. Hearing their stories, dreams, hardships, and really getting to know the people of Tacoma bring another level of respect that I really want to give back to the community.

VOLCANO: When will you take over Cavanaugh's?

HASKINS: I'm hoping to take over Cavanaugh's in February. I would love to do a grand reopening to reintroduce the community to local artists and musicians. My friend guitarist Justin MacDonald will be the first performer. Artist Alexis St. John will hang her art March 1. She has also put out her very first children's book on Amazon. I'm thinking Cavanaugh's would be the perfect place to have a book signing.

VOLCANO: What kind of changes will you make?

HASKINS: I'm hoping to get people who don't live around here to support the coffee house just as much as the neighbors.
New furniture is a major thing seeing as this is a small space and the large tables and chairs that are here really take up a lot of much needed space. The beer and wine selection is small as of right now, but I plan on improving it to showcase local brewers and winemakers as well as across state of Washington. Introducing Mad Hat Tea is something that I will transition into not long after taking over the shop. Cavanaugh's serves doughnuts and scones rom Pao's Donuts, which I will continue to use because they have a great reputation and are located right on 6th Ave.

VOLCANO: Sounds as if you champion local goods.

HASKINS: The important thing about all of these changes is that the people of this city support not only Cavanaugh's Coffee House, but other local Tacoma businesses as well. Tacoma has a lot to offer its people, and the more community support changes such as mine, the more our community can grow and really have a chance to make our economy ours. Timing has a way of working with you sometimes, and in this case it did. Cavanaugh's Coffee House has now become my own, and I look forward to always supporting Tacoma businesses through the products that I serve no matter where the coffee shop life takes me.   

Cavanaugh's Coffee House, 3928 N. Cheyenne St., Tacoma, 253.756.8875

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