On Friday afternoon, as national news networks broadcast the controversial presidential inauguration, cafe owner Luis Rodriguez was hard at work finalizing plans and preparing others to help mold the Beacon Hill block he’s called home (at least professionally) for years. And all his hard work will culminate on Sunday with an opening celebration for a brand-new cafe.
Rodriguez has co-owned The Station, a coffee house on Beacon Hill, for nearly seven years with his wife, Leona. But the two have big plans: They’re building a new cafe across the street, Station Coffee, that will double the size of their current location, which they plan to then renovate and turn into a wine bar, The Wine Station, opening in March. “We want to put you to bed with wine,” Rodriguez says, “and wake you up with coffee.”
The Station, to its plethora of patrons, is more than just a place to get caffeinated. It’s a platform for progress, a place to feel community and a sense of neighborhood pride in one of Seattle’s most diverse ZIP codes. And the area is also the spot for the upcoming third annual Station Block Party, which brings together some of the city’s best (POC) artists and leaders to celebrate the Beacon Hill community, bringing in crowds upward of 2,000 people.
“The new cafe is a symbol of growth,” says Rodriguez. “Our growth.” But when you’re talking about growth for a neighborhood business in a diverse area, the next word that often comes to mind is gentrification. And Rodriguez has seen his neighborhood and coffee shop change in the same way other areas of the city have: an increase of white patrons and their financial investment. “We get to see that up close,” he says. “But at The Station we think all people should have a voice. We don’t shut people down. But it is about dialogue and creating a safe place for people who’ve been marginalized.”
Armed with this mentality, the Station’s co-owners seem to be figuring out something important—so much so that their business and their cultural footprint are increasing. The two even signed a hefty 15-year lease on the new location, which hums with hammers striking nails behind windows still covered in anticipation. The new location, Rodriguez says, will serve similar fare as the current cafe, with the addition of a selection of tamales.
“We’re here to stay,” says Rodriguez. “And we are deliberately opening in January—the same month that evil, misogynist, homophobic, racist man takes office—to let people know we’re not going anywhere. We’re not scared.” Station Coffee soft opening, 2533 16th Ave. S. Noon–5 p.m. Sun., Jan. 29.