After a year of construction and delays for his new cafe and coffee-roasting facility, Jay DeRose, owner of MiddleState Coffee, is finally ready to open the doors to the public at 212 Santa Fe Drive today (Friday, May 31).
DeRose's original plan to open the cafe last summer was thwarted by compliance issues with the city. "The buildout was really smooth; the only un-smooth stuff was city stuff," explains DeRose. "Everyone's just doing their job, but I do feel like there's a flaw in the way they initially go about issuing permits for a space based on the architectural drawings."
Based on those original drawings, DeRose received permits to build the space out as a retail food establishment. However, when city officials actually visited the space, they informed him that he needed additional permits and had to make changes to meet different requirements than what they'd originally told him in order to get licensed.
"When people delay their opening and say it's not our fault…that is so real," says DeRose. "The city made us make so many changes due to what they considered the space to be."
Now, almost a year after the planned opening, DeRose is ready to officially serve the coffee community. "It's weird to think that we're actually going to be open," he says. "I've spent so much time in that space by myself that it's hard for me to imagine people being in there."
The production side of MiddleState moved in last June, and a glass wall separating the roasters from the cafe allows customers to see the process. With half of the space dedicated to roasting, 1,500 square feet remain for the cafe, which is further split into two levels. The lower level holds a long table just wide enough for a coffee cup (but not much more), while the upper level offers more space and outlets for those looking to set up shop to "do homework or hack on your computer," describes DeRose.
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Inspiration for the interior design came from the space itself. "We did what the space organically geared us towards," says DeRose. The already dark floors and ceilings created an "industrial modern" feel, contrasted with white walls and lots of greenery. Most all furniture, including all of the tables and chairs, was either built or designed by DeRose, with assistance from a friend on the metalwork.
For the menu, owner says "We're not trying to change the wheel, just offer the best customer service and hospitality," says DeRose. Several unique drinks found their way onto the menu, like the espresso tonic and espresso soda (Coca-Cola with espresso), in addition to standard coffee beverages. Food options include pastries from Reunion Bread Co, pop-tarts from Sugar Bakeshop, and a specialty vegan waffle made in-house.
For today and going forward, the cafe hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. MiddleState will be closed on Sundays for now. Although no special events are planned for the grand opening, you can expect DeRose to deliver on his "Have fun — brew coffee" motto. "We're just gonna hook everyone up with free drinks for friends and people we don't know yet," says DeRose.