“We wanted a coffeehouse in the business district and now we are looking forward to being in the tourist district,” said Kathy Walsh this afternnon. Walsh was referring to the opening of Crema, an Italian themed coffeehouse which is expected to open early in February on the Portland waterfront – 9 Commercial Street. We were chatting at the popular Arabaca, 2 Free Street which Walsh and her husband, John, own together. Walsh admitted that the relocation of the huge law firm, Pierce Atwood, from the area has hurt Arabaca’s bottom line.
Back on September 17, MHN.com reported on Post # 884, that Crema, housed in an old manufacturing building near the Grand Trunk Railroad, would be opening early this month. However, plans were slowed down and now Walsh is looking to an early February opening. A visit to the proposed Crema location showed an electric fireplace to be a centerpiece of the new coffee house, but still lots of work left to be done and other details still to be resolved. The new Crema will be fully ADA compliant by the time it opens and will be open 7 days a week as is Arabaca.
The largest incentive for Crema was the ability of the Walshs to move their coffee roasting equipment from the near by 144 Fore Street location where it is now housed. A special area of Crema has been designated for this process which is run by co-owner John Walsh, highly respected in the area for his brewing expertise. Customers will be able to observe the process. In addition to expresso, there will be a very small menu, including a Soup du Jour, few sandwiches and salads. The Walshs may also obtain a city license for beer and wine at the Crema location which they do not have at Arabaca. Walsh still needs to hire a few good people to staff Crema.
The couple, originally from Lincoln, MA. lived in Seattle, WA. between 1990 – 1993 where John learned about brewing coffee from the experts. One was David Schoner, Vivace, and the other was the owner of Cafe D’Arte. Those experiences got them hooked. They started looking in the east for a place to estabalish a coffeehouse; even considering Cambridge, MA. But they settled on Portland and have no regrets.
Just how Kathy will divide her time between Arabaca and Crema has not been figured out yet. But there’s no doubt that this competent and likeable woman will succeed at this new venture.