The Midland Building. (Juice file photo)
Hippee Coffee to pop up in Amici Espresso’s old spot, for now
Published on December 16th, 2013 | by Josh Hafner
Amici Espresso is dead. Long live Hippee Coffee — at least for now.
The Italian-inspired coffee chain that operated one of downtown’s most beloved cafes closed its two locations last Friday afternoon, ending the seven-year run of the side-business started by Kum & Go CEO Kyle Krause.
But the doors to Amici’s former downtown space in the Midland building will open again on Wednesday morning, with Amici’s former baristas slinging coffee made with Amici’s former equipment, the space’s owner told Juice Magazine. The shop will have a new name inspired by the Midland’s old one: The Hippee Building.
“I’d love to convert the building’s name back over to the Hippee Building,” said Jeff Young, who acquired the building constructed by businessman George B. Hippee in the early 1900s. Young’s coffee shop in the old Amici space is registered as Hippee Coffee, he said, but you won’t see that name on any of the walls. Hippee Coffee is for now a placeholder, a pop-up coffee shop designed to retain Amici’s loyal fanbase of startup entrepreneurs and corporate pros with hopes that a more established chain will move in.
“If we don’t get someone who’s going to snap it up for what we feel is right, we’ll run it as long as we have to,” said Young, who said he bought or retained most all of the downtown Amici’s equipment and furnishings along with half of its six employees. “When I say everything is staying — everything that does not say ‘Amici’ on it is staying.”
(The other three employees took positions within Kum & Go, Young said.)
So who might move in to Amici’s former downtown space? Young said representatives for Caribou Coffee are scheduled to tour the space this Thursday. Scooter’s Coffee and Yogurt — the Omaha-based chain with a location on Merle Hay Road — has sent Young a letter of intent regarding the space, pegging it as the most likely future tenant at this time.
“We see this location as an opportunity to be a part of what is a vibrant downtown community and business area,” said David Froscheiser, an area developer and franchisee for Scooters.
While Scooters and Caribou sound like the most likely potential tentnants at this time, Juice asked readers on social media what they’d like to see. Joe McConville said on Facebook that no better coffee shop could land in the space than Grounds for Celebration, while Karen Weiss said she would like to see a Cuban-inspired coffeehouse like Chicago’s Cafecito. On Twitter, Deanna Foren called for Mars Cafe to enter the space.
In recent weeks, Young has claimed he’s heard (or heard rumors about) interest from Mars Cafe and fellow mainstay Java Joes as well as the big, green giant: Starbucks. Representatives for Starbucks failed to return an inquiry issued for this article last week, but owners of Java Joes and Mars Cafe both said they’re not interested in the space.
Justin Schoen is a part-owner of Mars Cafe, which briefly experimented with a skywalk location last year. He and his partners crunched some numbers on doing business in the space, he said, and said it would’ve been too costly for them.
“I wish whoever (ends up) there the best of luck,” Schoen said. “It’s a tough place to do a coffee shop.”