by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & L & lt;/span & ess than two months after it closed, Empyrean is re-opening. New ownership, slightly different business model, slightly fair-er trade chocolate syrups, same espresso machine, same name... live music of some sort. Chrisy Riddle, a creative writing teacher at Central Valley High School, bought the embattled coffee shop/club after learning about it from her students.
"I loved it there," she says. "I've always wanted to open up this kind of coffee shop, so when I saw [the Empyrean], I thought, 'Aww, they beat me to it.' So when I heard they were closing I just approached Alex and, over the last five or six weeks, we worked it out." Among her many ambitions (which includes ballet teasers, featured artists) is to bring music back to the garage-like space connected to the coffee shop.
Riddle is bringing in Rhea Beumer to book shows. The veteran of many a RAWK Northwest hardcore set says she intends to do a lot of the kinds of shows -- indie pop, Americana and acoustic -- that former owners Alex and Shae Caruso put on, though she isn't ruling out a hardcore show or two. "I asked [Chrisy] what kinds of shows she wants to do, and she said she didn't care as long as they paid at the door and bought coffee," Beumer recounts, "which is great, because it means I can do whatever will draw a crowd."
The coffee shop will have a soft opening the weekend of Dec. 22, with its grand opening happening New Year's weekend beginning Thursday, Dec. 28.
Meanwhile, developer, bassist and man-about-town Dan Spaulding has bought the building at 109 W. Pacific, most recently the home of Fat Tuesdays. The 7,000-square-foot space has been a concert venue off and on for decades. Spaulding is now looking at other uses for the space, although he hasn't ruled out making it a club again.
"The biggest piece in making it a venue again is finding someone who can manage it responsibly," Spaulding says. "It's kind of like running a restaurant. You have to love what you're doing to make whatever little money you'll get from it." Oddly enough, that was almost the exact same sentiment Ken Dupree gave The Inlander earlier this year as he boarded up Fat Tuesdays.
Whatever fills the space, Spaulding will not be coming in as an investor. "I'll probably keep it clean and just be a landlord," he says, and though he seems to suggest it's not likely that a club would re-enter the space at 109 W Pacific, Spaulding seems to like the idea. "I would love to see that space revived," he says. "But at the same time, there's a reason a lot of clubs aren't making it... I would love it if someone can go in there and make it work, but that person can't be me."
Before any decisions are made, though, Spaulding has to tackle some of the fairly significant renovations that Dupree lamented not being able to do himself. "I thought I might fix the horrible structural problems in the roof first," says Spaulding, laughing at the disrepair. "It's pretty rough up there. We have a lot of demo[lition] to do in order to get the place back to a useable state."