Beaverton coffee shop owner finds tent damage after snowstorm
You probably escaped last weekend's big storm by hiding away at home and watching the snow pile on.
As the snow accumulated, Ben Reese, who owns Lionheart Coffee Co. in Beaverton, ventured out with his wife to see what damage the winter storm wrought at their location on Southwest Watson Avenue.
On Sunday, Feb. 14, Reese discovered a collapsed tent close to the road at the First Street Dining Commons in downtown Beaverton. He says the caved-in tent ended up an inch away from the window of a restaurant across the street from his coffee shop.
"We're just so thankful that nobody got hurt and there was no other damage to any of the businesses around there," Reese said. "Other than the tent itself, we got lucky there."
The First Street Dining Commons opened last summer to help people dine out in response to the coronavirus pandemic. People can bring their own food or order it from a nearby restaurant.
Reece says the space has been a great addition and an overall blessing for restaurant owners in the area, especially when the weather is nice. The coffee shop owner notes the outdoor dining area also helps to keep employees and customers safe as the COVID-19 crisis continues.
With fewer cases in the area, restaurant owners can open their business for indoor seating, but Reece isn't going that route yet. He says the tents provide ample space for people to enjoy a cup of coffee outside.
"We've decided as far as our business that we're actually going to wait for indoor seating until service industry folks can be vaccinated and we're at the 'moderate risk' level and not a 'high risk' level," explained Reese, referring to the Oregon Health Authority's categories for county-by-county COVID-19 restrictions.
He also appreciates his customers still supporting the business when there's less space to eat due to the collapsed tent.
A new tent arrived Thursday, Feb. 18, replacing the one that was damaged.
The tents are rented through an event management company called Portland Productions. At first, Lionheart rented the tents, but then the Beaverton city government took over those payments as the First Street Dining Commons expanded. The coffee company still manages the space, cleaning the tables and chairs every hour.
Lauren Reece, Ben's wife, says she doesn't know exactly who will be paying for the new tent, but she is happy to know there will be a replacement.
"That space is just so awesome, because it has like a true population that is in there almost all day long," she said. "Different restaurants use it at different times, so it's just nice to have that option for people."
As for the other tents, Ben Reece says they also sustained some damage. The commercial-grade tents are usually made for events and not permanent use.
Despite that, the tents have survived heavy winds during last summer's wildfire outbreak, and heavy rain throughout the fall and winter months, said Reece. Ice was the one thing that the tents couldn't survive.
"They're very stable — until you throw a couple thousand pounds of ice on top of them," Reese said with a chuckle.
He added, "Even on those really rainy days … people are still enjoying their food and their coffees and everything out there, and that is encouraging to see folks braving the elements a little bit more to support their favorite local businesses. So, that space is definitely able to provide the type of shelter that allows people to continue to support, as we continue to make it through this pandemic."
Once the new tent is up, Reece will able to provide the space, with help from the city, to keep his employees safe while also serving a hot cup of joe on a rainy, sunny or windy day — provided there are no more ice storms involved.
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