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|Articles - May 2012|
|Monday, April 23, 2012|
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By Linda Baker
On a rainy Monday morning, Din Johnson, owner of Ristretto Roasters, is sitting in his newest café located in the Schoolhouse Electric building: a chic renovated space featuring old-growth beams, brick walls and a coffee bar fashioned from repurposed metal. Open since December, the café in Northwest Portland’s industrial district is the third for Ristretto, which got its start in the Beaumont neighborhood in 2005.
“We’re not mapping out a plan saying, ‘We have to be downtown, we have to be in Northwest,’” says Johnson, 45, describing the company’s organic growth strategy. “It’s more we team with local people we respect who have great ideas.” Johnson does prefer to site his cafés in undeveloped areas such as the industrial district, he says. “Those are the neighborhoods we want to be in — where people don’t have things.”
Portland has no shortage of cafés and businesses that roast their own coffee; one count puts the list at 40. But in that crowded category, Ristretto has carved out a niche as one of the few that is expanding and creating simultaneously high-design and community-oriented coffeehouse environments. “My biggest thing is making good coffee approachable,” Johnson says. “I want people to try new coffee without being intimidated by the people behind the counter. That’s my motto and that’s how we’ve hired people.”
Last December, restaurant guide Zagat named Ristretto one of the 10 “coolest independent coffee shops in the country.” The coffee itself has earned national accolades: “What to buy now,” proclaimed national food magazine Bon Appétit. Despite the hip factor, Johnson himself seems steadfastly down to earth. A former contractor, the Portland native had roasted coffee at home for years before deciding to turn his passion into a profession. “People thought I was nuts,” says Johnson, noting that at the time, Stumptown Coffee was thought to have cornered the artisanal roasting market. On its first day, Ristretto’s Beaumont café, located “off the beaten path” on Northeast 42nd, earned a grand total of $56.
Seven years later, Ristretto, which grossed more than $1 million in revenues last year, has three cafés, a separate roasting facility in Northeast Portland, 25 employees and 30 wholesale clients. “Relationship-based” partnerships helped fuel that growth, says Johnson, whose wife, writer Nancy Rommelmann, does the accounting. Architect Jeff Holst, a regular at Ristretto’s Beaumont café, designed the second café located on North Williams Avenue, a bright and airy space that helped usher in Portland’s current modern coffeehouse aesthetic. For the Schoolhouse Electric coffee bar, Johnson hired Accelerated Development as the designer; the firm is the remodeling arm of Bamboo Revolution, a materials supplier that provided the bamboo for the Beaumont site.
Monday, June 16, 2014
The Oregon economy could get a boost from a new trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the European Union.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
The New Yorker recently published a sharply worded critique of “disruptive innovation,” one of the most widely cited theories in the business world today. The article raises questions about the descriptive value of disruption and innovation — whether the terms are mere buzzwords or actually explain today's extraordinarily complex and fast changing business environment.
Update: We caught up with Portland's Thomas Thurston, who shared his data driven take on the disruption controversy.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Scott Kveton, the CEO of Urban Airship is taking a leave of absence from the company. As the story continues to unfold, here’s our perspective on a few of the key players.
Monday, July 07, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
Named after the 2010 experiment by Thomas Ryan, "Robin Sages" are fake social media profiles designed to encourage linking and divulging valuable information.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
BY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.
Friday, June 06, 2014
BY KATIE AUSBURGER | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR
How to build a hipster-friendly work environment.
Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Citing the transition to catch shares management as a key to rebuilding stocks and reducing bycatch, 13 species caught by the West Coast trawl fishery today earned designation from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as sustainable.
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