Cleveland has enjoyed a strong artisanal coffee scene for some time now, but Rising Star Coffee raised the bar to new heights when it opened its Ohio City coffee shop and roaster two years ago. Since then, the company has seen significant growth in its retail and wholesale business, while attracting other tenants to its Hingetown neighborhood.
Now, Rising Star is planning to open a second location in Little Italy, in the first floor of a long-vacant building at the corner of Murray Hill and Edgehill Roads. The new cafe will be about 1,500 square feet, says GM Erika Durham, roughly three times larger than the current spot. It will be strictly a coffee shop, she adds, featuring plenty of seating and other design elements that will allow for multiple uses.
"We've been playing around with the idea for a long time, because we get a lot of people who come to our Ohio City shop from the East Side," says Durham. "Like Hingetown, we think this area is seeing revitalization, and we'd like to add a new flavor."
The basic offerings will be the same, with made-to-order coffee drinks and light finger foods and pastries. Yet the space will be different than anything else in the Cleveland market, Durham promises. "It will be similar to larger, Third Wave coffee shops like Intelligentsia, Blue Bottle Coffee… ones that are a little more progressive," she says. "We'll have our own unique take on it."
The new location in the historic Piscopo building will feature cement floors and lots of natural light. The space, vacant for 20 years and last occupied by Theresa's Italian Restaurant, is being gutted and renovated by new owners Murray Hill Partners. Durham says the owners are dividing the space and seeking more tenants. The location, one of the most heavily traveled for east side cyclists, is sure to be a hit.
Durham says the area is underserved when it comes to good coffee, with only Starbucks, Algebra Tea House and the Coffee House in University Circle by way of competition.
Initially, the new Rising Star will be open from 6:30 a.m. til 6 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. til 6 p.m. on weekends. Hours will be adjusted based on customer demand, and Durham says that adding evening hours is a definite possibility in the future.
Rising Star founder Kim Jenkins left a job overseeing 110 people at Lockheed Martin to start a coffee roaster. Rising Star directly sources its coffee from farmers all over the world, aspires towards the highest form of culinary appreciation of coffee, and uses preparation methods such as pour-over, aeropress and vacuum pot.
"We've grown significantly since we started, and that speaks to what we're doing in a really strong way," notes Durham. "We have the people of Cleveland to thank for that."
Source: Erika Durham
Writer: Lee Chilcote