By Carrie Wenninger | CNA Media Team
Erin Katchuk, wearing a blackand-white polkadot dress with candy red buttons, her dark hair in pigtails, sits at the table nearest the door in the coffee shop formerly known as Motivasi.
She sips an Americano in the bright June sunshine and talks about art, coffee, cats, insomnia and the benefits of daily planners. In a word: life.
Employed at Motivasi since 2013, first as a barista then moving into managerial duties, Erin had been looking for a business to start in Portland. In January, opportunity came knocking. Loudly.
Motivasi owner Joshua Wilson had other projects to attend to and the coffee shop at 4502 N.E. 42nd Ave., he informed his three employees, would be closing.
With 15 years’ experience in the coffee biz, Erin smelled a freshly brewing beginning rather than a bittersweet ending, and consulted with Michael DeMarco of Our 42nd Avenue Neighborhood Prosperity Initiative. He helped her evaluate the business opportunity.
Things looked even more promising when she began talking to her regulars about becoming the shop’s new owner, and a longtime customer offered her a low-interest loan.
“Suddenly, doors were flying open, and it became something I couldn’t refuse,” she said. Jezebel’s Last Standing Merrygoround Café officially opened with Erin at the helm March 6.
If you’re curious about the name, there’s a story – as well as an ideology – to share. Jezebel was a dearly loved cat of Erin’s. Now deceased, her name lives on in her caretaker’s business. As for the merry-go-round, it’s an ode to the classic children’s playground ride, yes. But there’s more to it.
While living in Seattle, Erin noticed the city removing an entire merrygo-round of old spinning ponies and replacing it with modern, slanting and rotating rings that seemed difficult to balance on.
“Merry-go-rounds represent community to me,” she shared. “There’s artistic expression and beauty there. There’s balance and a sense of people helping each other out. One person steps up to give another person some time away, and the ride continues on…
“We want to reclaim the concept of the coffee shop as a place of community, a place for neighbors to get to know each other, learn from each other, support each other. We want to be a space where conversations about art and life happen.
“It’s less about making money and more about a present you give to the community.”
Your present – and your cuppa – await.
Carrie Wenninger lives on 29th Avenue in Concordia. She is a freelance writer, a mom, a world traveler and a small business marketing consultant. Contact her at WurdGurl@gmail.com.