KFnet in T-Town

Jun. 21, 2010 at 8:11pm

RIP Origin 23

Tacoma's own Origin 23 Degrees cafe is closed for good as of today. The former Firehouse Coffee spot at the corner of 6th Ave. and Union said their last goodbye's today and is nearly completely cleared out of any decoration or life. Aside from their sign hanging out front the only personality left is the hand-drawn note on the door:

Word has it that rent in the spot was steeper than they could muster but, whatever the case, it's our loss. Thanks for running a great space and community spot. We'll miss you (and hope a payday loans shop doesn't take your space).

comments [54]  |  posted under 6th ave, cafe, coffee, firehouse, origin 23, tacoma


by L.S.Erhardt on 6/21/2010 @ 11:44pm
I'm not a coffee person, and as such I don't frequent coffee shops. Furthermore, whenever I drive past 6th & Union, I'm not looking at the building too intently.

That being said, I never noticed all that many people there. I'm not sure what kind of traffic a coffee shop needs to stay viable.

Too bad, it looks like a neat spot.
I tend to think that building would have been better to build on 6th & Steel rather than Union. More foot traffic there.

I really, really hope we don't get a payday loan place there or a beauty supply shop.

by Erik on 6/21/2010 @ 11:54pm

That is crazy. The place was really busy the last few months.

I was blindsided by this one. Their coffee was amazing.

by Erik Hanberg on 6/21/2010 @ 11:55pm
I agree with Erik B. It's always been a remarkably full place when I'm there.

by Marguerite on 6/21/2010 @ 11:59pm
I loved this place. So many varieties of grilled cheesey baked products. I have no words. I am really sad.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/22/2010 @ 12:18am
Like I said, it's hard to tell when driving by.
That was the impression I got. Maybe I drive by at slow times?

It still sucks, regardless of reason, to see a local small business close. I hope the owners have better luck in the future.

by Erik Hanberg on 6/22/2010 @ 12:21am

I recall thinking similarly. I think they had too dark of windows.

by Kevindot1 on 6/22/2010 @ 12:42am
That sucks. They had really good coffee. And a nice place. I concur with not wanting a payday loan place to take up the space.

by NineInchNachos on 6/22/2010 @ 12:53am
maybe they got sued out of existence like another coffee shop I know.

by morgan on 6/22/2010 @ 9:42am
This is not good.

by Nick on 6/22/2010 @ 9:58am
If it wasn't due to a lack of business, I imagine another coffee shop will sprout up in its place. With the space already set up for that type of business, it would be the cheapest for another tenant in the business (or something close to it) to set up shop.

Here's hoping!

by morgan on 6/22/2010 @ 10:47am
It's a great location for a bar.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 6/22/2010 @ 11:51am
Maybe the place was filled with unemployed people using the wifi all day and nursing one small cup of drip for hours.

by Maria on 6/22/2010 @ 1:19pm
I was just discussing with someone how difficult it is to keep a restaurant afloat. The margins aren't that high, the expenses are continual. Lots of good places (with good food/coffee) shut down. (BTW, is the Indochine on Mildred still open...one of my favorite Thai places in the South Sound. I heard it was gone, too)

I don't know the background for these guys, sometimes illness or rent increases or even tax issues can also be the final blow. Running a business is really tough.

I'm sad for the loss, here is some John Donne as commentary.

No local business is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the region,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Tacoma is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine favorite hangouts were.
Each closing diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thy venti.

by fredo on 6/22/2010 @ 3:31pm
It should be obvious that there is a glut of high end coffee shops in Tacoma so I'm not entirely surprised but sorry to see another 6th ave. casualty. Maria mentioned some possible issues. I would add that they had problems with their original name and then switched to the name Origin 23 degrees. Probably could have come up with a better name with some effort.

by seejane on 6/22/2010 @ 4:28pm
6th ave does not need another vacant store front.

by Altered Chords on 6/22/2010 @ 4:28pm
I love the poetry Maria!

by Dave_L on 6/22/2010 @ 7:12pm
I've never been to Origin or worked in the business, but I have also considered what a tough business it has to be, with countless variables; many not under ones' control. There are other business in town currently in transition, flux, or up agaist the ropes. And geez, today I was just talking to one such employee about how low (or nonexistent) tipping has become in some segments of the industry. And this was a place in Tacoma that I conder to have some of the hardest working and attentive staff up front and in the kitchen. I know one thing that brings me back to places I like is when I get the sense that the owner and/or staff really enjoys what they are doing and the business they are in. When the person on the other side of the counter is a human face of the business itself. There are some new and established places in town that realize the value in this. For example, I hope I will always consider Amocat Morgan's place. Red Hot wouldn't be Red Hot if it was just dogs and beer. Same with Villa Caffe. Again, I'm not saying Origin didn't have this, as I never ventured there. But I agree the name was a bit odd, and I'm always sad to see a business shut its doors. I hope they find another location in which to re-open.

by Crafternoon on 6/22/2010 @ 7:46pm
This really is a suprise and a shame. I have been to Origin 23 on a regular basis since it opened (as Firehouse). The staff was always friendly and the coffee was always made just right. It is also one of those places where I would go to do a crossword or read cityarts and more often than not happen to bump into someone I knew.

The suprise for me comes because when I was in a month or so ago, I heard one of the baristas taking about new directions the shop was taking for the summer. She mentioned more local music, a new name but same owner & staff, different layout of tables and chairs. I was very excited and looking forward to seeing these changes take place. What a disappointment to hear it closed suddenly instead! I am holding onto a glimmer of hope that this is just a transition between the old Origin 23 and the new, improved version. Although, that note on the door sounds pretty final.

by Non Sequitur on 6/22/2010 @ 11:16pm
My blood is coffee, I think. After the amount I've drank over the years, it's got to be in my veins by now.
But this make me wonder: just how many coffee shops are in this city? Include everything from the corporate chains to the "mom and pop" to the trendy and edgy to the high end. We can call a "coffee shop" a place that sells coffee as it's main business model.
Maybe somewhere between 100 and 250?

by fredo on 6/23/2010 @ 7:06am
The real problem for coffee shops is that every time the liberals try to convince voters to pass a new tax increase they always suggest that the new tax could be paid if people would just give up a "latte a month" or a "latte a week" or a "latte a day."

Maybe I could start a new discussion under this topic "Why do liberals hate coffee shops?"

by seejane on 6/23/2010 @ 10:53am
From now on I propose liberals suggest you put $5 less in the church collection plate everyweek and keep drinking that lattes. The latte purchase supports more people. From the dairy farmer to the longshoreman that unloads the coffee from the ship to your local barista.

by Dave_L on 6/23/2010 @ 11:22am
This is getting good...
My boss sometimes supports a drive-up latte stand in Lakewood that has good coffee AND a most excellent business model. But that's another topic altogether...

by Jesse on 6/23/2010 @ 5:03pm
Nudie coffee stands and Starbucks will most likely put a lot of mom and pop coffee places out of business. Then, you'll see Starbucks stand behind a law outlawing nudie stands thereby leaving Starbucks a bigger player in this industry then even before AND making them look like a hero to all the coffee swigging stay at home moms in suburbia.

by fredo on 6/23/2010 @ 6:53pm
"you'll see Starbucks stand behind a law outlawing nudie stands thereby leaving Starbucks a bigger player in this industry"

Doubt the bikini baristas will mind. Controversy drives the sex business. The naughtier something is, the more people want it and the more people will pay for it. And look at it this way. If a customer patronizes the nudie coffee shop every day during the week, then he will have something to repent for on Sunday. This is good for religion too!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 6/23/2010 @ 9:25pm
Just don't take your kids to Bikini Bottom Espresso in Tacoma. They will not find Spongebob Squarepants there.

by L.S.Erhardt on 6/23/2010 @ 10:52pm
Aren't the bikini barista coffee places not allowed within the city limits?

I've never seen one in town, but once you cross the city limits, there are a ton of them.

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 6/24/2010 @ 1:08am
I think you are right about that, Thorax. I did however wander into a Tacoma coffee shop where the customers had to wear bikinis. Strange place, not sure it lasted very long. I can't say I could recommend the loaner bikinis but that isn't the kind of thing you carry with you all the time.

by morgan on 6/24/2010 @ 10:53am
Does anyone know if their location by PLU is still open? Was it ever open?

by The Jinxmedic on 6/24/2010 @ 11:40am
@seejane: I'm all for putting that $5 per week in the collection plate- every bit of that helps the other community work that I and others do.

by NineInchNachos on 6/24/2010 @ 4:38pm
Is true!


by Non Sequitur on 6/24/2010 @ 8:07pm
Sweet sweet
coffee, how I miss
your flavor

by jenyum on 6/25/2010 @ 5:45pm
Morgan: no, it never opened. There's a Forza there. (I like them fine and they are a local chain.)

I am bummed about Origin 23. The name change was unfortunate, but they had good coffee and it was a good place in my 'hood to meet people. Come to think of it, it used to be my standard meeting place but when the Satellite Lounge at Masa opened up it took over that role. It also used to be my standard neighborhood place to buy beans but then Valhalla went in down the street...Lots of competition for the same crowd, the coffee business is tough.

by Erik on 9/12/2010 @ 1:29am

The old 23 Degrees Coffee shop place now has a new business going in.

The place is papered over with professional print which says Metropolitan Coffee or something like that. The UPS students will be happy I am sure.

by ixia on 9/12/2010 @ 10:54am
Please, let there be a Middle Eastern restaurant somewhere. I don't mind if they serve coffee, too!

by Marty on 9/12/2010 @ 12:11pm
New Cafe/ coffee shop @ 744 Market. (former Cafe Messina)
"Rain City Cafe" looks to be part of a Seattle chain.

by Marty on 9/12/2010 @ 12:16pm
I was just studying economic data for Tacoma.

Jan - July 2010
New business openings: 1397

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/12/2010 @ 12:34pm
Curious... what were the number of business closings in the same period? Are we at a net gain?

by fredo on 9/12/2010 @ 12:42pm
According to Marty's information we are getting about 200 new businesses every month here in Tacoma. Is that better or worse than usual? Also I'm curious (as was Thorax) about the number of closings during that same period. And finally, do these business openings have employment situations attached or do they include people who are opening little home based businesses?

200 Frank Russell Companies a month would be very significant. 200 lemonade stands...not so significant.

by fredo on 9/12/2010 @ 12:43pm
How about a listing of those 1400 business? Kind of mind boggling given the number of commercial vacancies around town.

by Marty on 9/12/2010 @ 1:15pm
Here you go. .

Jan - July 2009 / 2010

Business openings: 1411 / 1397
Business closing: 616 / 363
Net gain: 795 / 1034

by Marty on 9/12/2010 @ 1:35pm
As for the types of businesses I don't have that, but I don't believe that any Frank Russell caliber of businesses opened.

by fredo on 9/12/2010 @ 3:09pm
well we have net gain of over 1800 businesses since January 2009 and yet revenue collections at city hall are falling precipitously. evidently, the gross number of businesses is a sort of misleading indicator of prosperity. or so it would seem.

thanks for the research Marty, "go huskers"

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/12/2010 @ 5:33pm
Another thing is why is University Place getting the good stores. University Place has a Traitor Joe's, where is our Trader Joe's? How does University Place land a Traitor Joe's when Tacoma has this huge department being paid huge money to get business into Tacoma? If that doesn't bother you look at little Gig Harbor, how is it they get all those fancy retailers. We get all wet over Sonic on 6th Ave. and H &M at the mall which is about as common as a Mrs. Fields cookies at a mall anywhere in the US.

by Jake on 9/13/2010 @ 10:05am
"H &M at the mall which is about as common as a Mrs. Fields cookies at a mall anywhere in the US."

Is it? They don't have stores in many states. Oregon doesn't have a store. The shopping mall loving state of Texas doesn't have any stores, along with about half the states in the Union.

by fredo on 9/13/2010 @ 10:46am
jake better put up a link to prove it to crenshaw, and don't try putting up a link to some old wiener!

by Crenshaw Sepulveda on 9/13/2010 @ 11:11am
H&M is in a huge expansion mode. Most of their stores will end up in malls. Southcenter Mall, anyone? In time, if there is a viable mall anywhere it will have an H&M. If we had a store downtown like the Seattle 5th and Pike maybe I'd be singing a different tune. No links to tired old wieners needed here.

by morgan on 9/20/2010 @ 1:57pm
Likes like the former Engine House Coffee/Origin 23 will now be Metronome Coffee. Logo here: twitpic.com/1eduvi

by KevinFreitas on 9/20/2010 @ 4:14pm
I hope that means all the servers will have to sing everything they say. :) Very cool though -- thanks for the update! Hopefully plenty of UPS students will be able to help keep that spot alive.

by Erik on 9/20/2010 @ 4:54pm
Nice. 23 Degrees was awesome and they knew their coffee. Their staff is scattered around Tacoma.





by narndt on 9/20/2010 @ 5:20pm
I will officially be calling this place "Tacoma Gnome" coffee.

by inbloodyrise on 9/20/2010 @ 5:39pm
so exclusive. i didn't think that we had that many well dressed short males in the area.

by fredo on 9/20/2010 @ 5:40pm
sixth ave doesn't need another coffee shop, it needs a Hooters.

by morgan on 9/20/2010 @ 6:05pm
You should open one Fredo!

by L.S.Erhardt on 9/20/2010 @ 6:23pm
Hmmm... they prefer to advertise via nit-twitter and facebook.

Stay away. They aren't interested in serving our kind.


Although I have another home on the web I thought it might be nice to lead by example a bit and put this blog system up to the test myself.

So far, so good... Funny how I build web tools for other people that are far better than the one's I have setup over on KFnet.


Hey Clear Channel, Clean Up Your Crap!

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