"Café Zamora" has been a much-loved coffee shop and community connector on S.E. Gladstone Street, at 37th, for the three years it has been in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood. To the dismay of many in the area, it closed in October.
The owner of the business, Hector Mejia Zamora, in telling THE BEE his decision, said he regretted having to leave the neighborhood where he and his anchor barista, Amy, have built up a following of loyal customers and have become an important part of the Creston-Kenilworth community.
"He is re-arranging his business model and consolidating and cutting costs," reports Douglas Yarrow, a Reed neighborhood regular customer and friend of Hector. He implied that leasing agreements did not work out; Hector has already opened a small location downtown — but now there has been a change in his plans, about which more in a moment.
We find that most people who have patronized the coffee shop think of Mejia Zamora as a friend, and an amazing young entrepreneur. In the past few years THE BEE has published articles about his journey from being a coffee farmer in Guatemala to being a PCC student learning English and studying business, to opening a coffee shop and being an importer of his Guatemalan coffee beans.
"Hector is a nimble business person, able to pivot quickly [when necessary]," remarked longtime Creston-Kenilworth resident Jemiha, who has been a supporter of the café since it opened three years ago. "He knows how to find openings and get a customer base. That takes a certain flexibility, and an ability to take advantages of opportunities."
Barista Amy, who came to the business with a great deal of experience and helped Mejia Zamora learn "barista ropes" when the shop opened, remarked, "Building relationships with everyone has been a great experience. We have built 'community' . . . We did what we wanted to do: Enjoy people, and sell a good cup of coffee. I'm grateful to have had this experience."
But just as this issue of THE BEE was going go press, Mejia Zamora revealed that he had finally found a new location in the Creston-Kenilworth neighborhood for his business. "Good news!" he exclaimed. "It looks like I have secured a new space not far away from Gladstone Street — by 'John's Market Place'."
The new location is on the south side of Powell, at 3602 S.E. Powell Boulevard, next to Orangetheory Fitness, and just east of Chipotle Mexican Grill. In addition to a coffee bar, the 871-square-foot space will have tables, chairs, couches, and a "little community stage" for poetry readings and small music shows.
"People will be able to have their [artistic] voices heard, and share music," he said. His muffins and salted chocolate cookies will still be obtained from "Bee's Custom Cakes" in Portland.
His small shop location downtown, in "Food Hall" at S.W. Second Avenue at Taylor Street, will be his only location while renovations are completed at 3602 S.E. Powell. The opening date on Powell is to be announced in November, and will depend on the renovation timeline.
For more information, updates, and to purchase coffee beans online with free delivery to Southeast or Northeast Portland, go to — http://www.cafezamorapdx.com