We have Permits!

Were back! I have held back on posting news while we worked on getting everything in order to proceed. Finally, after an extended 5 month process, permits were issued this week and we just passed our first inspection! Here is a little peak at what we have been up to:

Main sign is up, so the gabled area around it will get an offsetting reddish brown to highlight the light signboard. Keeping the historic logo and brand makes us standout in the community
A new wall defines the future, Restroom, Kitchen and Coffeebar – thanks to Taylor W. for donating all the Cedar Siding. In the background, you can see where we are still operating the bookstore
Opposite the Coffeebar, the walls are lined with bookshelves, and at the back is our ‘Russian tea-room’ for small private gatherings. the center area will have tables, separated by lower bookshelves, providing a bit of privacy to enjoy coffee and conversations.

Prepping to Start

Tenant Improvements will completely transform the store, and the preparation is happening now! Here is a list of what is underway and thanks for those who are helping:

  • Building Permit submittals are beginning thanks to Tekneek Architecture in Redmond – Larry and Eric have been great to work with.
  • Our landlord, David Rink, is serving as our General Contractor, providing the license we need and saving us substantially in our approach to the remodeling.
  • The biggest expense is the HVAC – but Randy Wallace has an past protégé who is virtually donating all the equipment and installation. Thanks to Don and Jimmy of Central Oregon Heating & Cooling.
  • Our next work party will be Saturday, May 4 and we hope to have a dozen folks working together emptying the front half, moving all fixtures, tearing out the floor and anything else we can do to prepare for the framing, plumbing and electrical work that will begin as soon as the Permit from the City is issued.
  • In the meanwhile we are accepting donations to purchase materials needed for the remodel; or in-kind donations. If you care to contribute to our efforts, learn more here or contact me at: frdamiank@outlook.com.

The Plan

Let me share with you the hot-points of the Plan – it will paint a picture you can follow as these updates are randomly posted.

  • We will take over the entire Open Book Inventory, but need to cull the inventory – too much of it has been there for many years and probably will never sale – think Pop Psychology, Self-Help, and Diet Books. If they did not work last year, no one wants to buy them and try again. So much of our culture is wash rinse and throw away – these books fall into that category
  • With the Help of our First Work Party, Kaisha (current owner) is having a blast with her treasure hunt of bringing to the front of the store the best of the best. At the same time, the back of the store is all on sale for ‘a buck a book’, or a bag full for $5-$10!!
  • We will empty the front and begin demo, as well as the things we can do prior to getting our permit from the City for the major tenant improvements.
  • Beginning May 1, Kaisha will ‘staff’ the back-half book store during a transition, keeping the customers satisfied, while we race to start the remodel – targeting our opening by July* October. Her two volunteer helpers will be supporting the transition while we learn the details of the inventory
  • *[note: had to edit this post to reflect the actual target]

What to Do?

A major component of Agia Sophia’s Mission is to provide a focus on the pursuit of the topics we generally call ‘the Classics” – History, Literature, Religion, Philosophy and the elements of Culture upon which civilization and the spirit of man is uplifted. Within the 50,000 volumes at The Open Book, these treasures are buried. We will be bringing a greater focus, and introducing new titles that won’t be found elsewhere. Under the auspices of Agia Sophia, we hope to cultivate a clientele who appreciate this focus this new .

Yet 80% of the current revenue and the majority of regular customers come in for the well worn, recycled paperbacks not found anywhere else in Bend – Westerns, Mysteries, and Romance. What to do? Did the new vision demand abandoning the Open Book legacy? Then the ‘bells went off’ so to speak when wrestling with what to do with the bulk of the inventory. I had the thought: Folks who eat healthy at home, stop in for Coffee and Treats – even with a new focus on meaningful writing, events and conversation, the historical fiction so popular here suddenly appeared to me as another type of ‘treat’ to have with coffee & a pastery.

So, we are keeping that 80%, while we hope to cultivate a broader clientele, while we enjoy serving everyone who comes to Agia Sophia.

Our 1st Workparty

This past Saturday we had a dozen volunteers put in a heroic effort working at The Open Book.  We did a little bit of everything to with sorting, organizing, boxing and moving books and fixtures to get ready for our move and opening of the Agia Sophia Bookstore and Coffeehouse. Thanks, to the everyone (especially for the Teen Group and Oscar from Milwaukie, OR) for a great initial work party.

As you see, 50,000 books that have been in a revolving inventory since the mid 1980s can be overwhelming without the extra hands. The work we did made it possible to begin the process of sorting out what would be put on sale for a ‘buck a book’, and which volumes will be retained for the opening of the new operation.

Hello Bend!

Agia Sophia Coffeehouse and Bookstore is now out of the planning phase and we are ready to introduce ourselves to the people of Bend and Central Oregon.  You will meet us beginning May 2019, when we take over The Open Book, at 155 NE Greenwood Ave.  We will remain open for business while we rebrand as Agia Sophia Coffeehouse and Bookstore and begin renovations to combine our vision for a classic coffeehouse with this historic bookstore that has been serving Bend since the 1980s.

Fresh Coffee & Ancient Wisdom

Think coffee with meals, pastries, and desserts to satisfy the
customers’ physical hunger,
. . . while our selection of books and events nourishes the spiritual and intellectual appetite.

Grab a cup and enjoy . . . a modest selection of the best books on traditional religion, philosophy, history, culture, and literature.  Our focus will be the ‘classics’, ‘orthodoxy’, and works of human inquiry that have stood the test of time. We are also happy to maintain a curated collection of the titles that customers of The Open Book have historically enjoyed.

This Blog will keep you updated on our progress – enjoy following, and once we are open, come in and enjoy a cup of coffee, a good book, and a real social networking experience: sharing life with friends over a hot cup of coffee, tea, or delicious treats!.