Spokane Journal of Business

Village Cafe replaces Empyrean

Longtime downtown spot sat empty for 18 months; new venue to open in July

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A trio of Spokane business partners plans to open a new cafe, bar, and concert venue next month in a downtown building at 171 S. Washington that most recently housed the Empyrean Coffee House.

Doug LaPlante, Shawn Duffey, and Mark Agnew own the new venue, to be called The Village Cafe & Concert House.

The Empyrean Coffee House occupied the building for about a year before closing in January 2011. Before that, the building was home to the Big Dipper, a bar that opened in the mid-1980s and frequently featured live music.

"I played there in the '90s when it was the Big Dipper and liked the stage," LaPlante says. "It's a good setup for a pretty good concert house."

Renovations of the 3,000-square-foot leased building are under way, he says, and that work includes painting, laying new flooring, and some exterior improvements to the structure. LaPlante estimates the renovations will cost $15,000 to $20,000.

The space's maximum occupancy of 110 people limits the types of performances that can be held there, he says, and the plan is to mostly host smaller, acoustic performances.

Starting out, he says he expects the business to employ three or four people in addition to him and the two other owners.

  • Chey Scott

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