A former Brooklyn Deli employee is trying to pay homage to the now-closed downtown Spokane sandwich shop.
Paper St. Coffee Co. opened in late August at 1307 N. Hamilton, just blocks northeast of Gonzaga University.
Michael Oehm, co-owner of the new coffee and sandwich shop, says he uses Brooklyn Deli as his measuring stick for greatness. Brooklyn Deli closed earlier this year after about 24 years of business.
“We’re trying really hard to carry on that style of sandwich,” Oehm says.
Oehm worked at Brooklyn Deli for over two years while attending Eastern Washington University.
“There is something special about building a sandwich, but at the end of the day, it’s very basic, it’s very easy,” Oehm says. “A single sandwich line can produce a lot of good sandwiches.”
The North Hamilton location previously was occupied by Roots Coffee Kitchen. The north side of the red building still has a painted mural that used to hang on the former Bulldog Tavern. The mural features former Gonzaga basketball players and other notable alums.
“Anybody who’s been here a little while knows about the mural,” Oehm says. “It makes it easy to describe where we’re at and affords us an inherent street cred. The building has already been known as a pretty cool spot.”
The shop’s proximity to Gonzaga was a major factor in Oehm choosing that location. About 75% of Paper St. Coffee’s customer base so far has been Gonzaga students, he says.
Paper St. Coffee is a Bulldog Buck vendor, meaning it accepts Bulldog Bucks as a form of payment. The Bulldog Bucks program is a stored-value account system managed by the university and available to students through residential meal plans.
About a third of Paper St. Coffee’s customers use Bulldog Bucks, Oehm says.
The shop’s name is inspired by Paper Street Soap Co., a fictional company from the 1996 novel “Fight Club,” Oehm’s favorite book.
Paper St. Coffee Co. originally was going to be named Community Kitchen, but Oehm says people kept asking him if he was opening a nonprofit, so he made a last-minute name change. Community Kitchen LLC is the shop’s legal name.
Paper St. Coffee’s sandwiches include the hot pastrami, Italian grinder, vegetarian, chicken salad, and the Beef and Cheddah, Mo Bettah. All sandwiches come with chips and pickles, which are made in-house by the shop’s other co-owner, Bryan Toston.
Toston also owns Spokane-based marketing and design agency Kraken Creative LLC. Toston expresses his creativity in the kitchen, fine tuning the menu and recipes, Oehm says.
The most popular drink item on the menu so far has been the Lavendar Chai—a chai latte with oat milk and lavender—Oehm says. The drink menu also includes traditional coffee-based beverages, a fruit smoothie, Italian sodas, milkshakes, and Lotus Plant Energy drinks, which Oehm says have grown in popularity in the coffee shop industry.
Paper St. Coffee brews its coffee using Post Falls-based Doma Coffee Roasting Co. products, Oehm says.
Breakfast items and other snacks also are served at the shop.
Food and drinks aren’t the only items available at Paper St. Coffee. Aside from a few pieces of furniture, just about everything in the shop is available for purchase, including most of the furniture, the art on the walls, and books.
The ever-changing mercantile, as it’s described on the company’s Instagram page, forces Oehm to move things around and continuously alter the layout of his shop—a twist he came up with for Paper St. Coffee’s atmosphere.
He says he also plans at some point to sell Paper St. Coffee merchandise.
The Gonzaga-area shop is in the process of adding delivery and pickup options through its website, Oehm says. Deliveries will be made through a third-party delivery service, like Uber Eats or DoorDash, he says.
Oehm and Toston are the only employees at Paper St. Coffee so far, although Oehm’s girlfriend helps with some of the baking, he says. The two plan to hire at least one more employee as business picks up, especially once the delivery and pickup options are made available, Oehm says.
“Needing to hire employees is a great problem to have,” he says.
Paper St. Coffee is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
•Island Style Food & BBQ, which started as a food truck, held its grand opening for its brick-and-mortar location last week at 2931 N. Division. The restaurant serves Hawaiian smoked pork, Filipino spring rolls called lumpia, island-style noodles, fried Spam on rice, and more. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, the new location will be open 4-9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant’s owner, Nicholas DeCaro, told the Journal earlier this year that Island Style would continue its mobile operations in addition to the permanent location.
•Patron Mexican Restaurant LLC is expected to open soon on Spokane’s South Hill, at 3029 E. 29th, according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. Patron will serve authentic Mexican food, offer indoor and outdoor dining, and have a full bar with beer, wine, and liquor, the restaurant’s website shows. Its hours will be 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.
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