If you spend enough time in coffee shops, eventually more than the caffeine gets in your blood.
Stacey Cutshall is a former barista, devoted java junkie and longtime familiar face at several local coffee houses. She might have used habitual regularity in cafés as research for a future business endeavor, but instead she discovered life-changing moments can occur while sipping a mocha.
'I've hung out in coffee shops for years and kept mental notes of what I liked,' said Cutshall, owner of Stomping Grounds Coffee House in Fairview. '(Owning a coffee shop) is what I'd always planned when I started college, but I wanted to create a different atmosphere in a coffee shop. Stomping Grounds melds everything I like - drinks, food, pastries and a real emphasis on customer service.'
Cutshall, 24, may appear young as a business proprietor, but behind her sparkling eyes lurks a methodical and organized mind. She purchased the former Bella Café on Northeast Halsey Street in Fairview in March, nearly on a whim, and is formally introducing her version of a coffee house at grand opening festivities Saturday, June 2.
Stomping Grounds Coffee House is intended to be the neighborhood hangout, where everybody knows your name and drink.
Cutshall became a frequent customer at Bella Café shortly after moving just up the street a few years ago. She got to know the café's owner, David Buzzelli, and frequently picked his brain on business ownership. Bella Café was a comfortable place, she said, and where she even had a second date with her now husband, Chris.
After completing a degree in business administration from Concordia University in December 2009, Cutshall drew up a business plan for the coffee house she planned to open one day. When a shop in Southeast Portland went up for sale earlier this year, she asked Buzzelli to look over her plan and offer some guidance.
'David told me it was a good plan and wished me luck,' Cutshall said. 'But then, he asked if I wanted to buy Bella Café. I liked that it was closer to where I lived, and I knew he was ready to move on with another business, but it all happened pretty fast.'
Cutshall closed the deal with Buzzelli in early March. Her 10-day crash course in business ownership before Buzzelli left was overwhelming yet exciting as she brought her dream to fruition.
'It was very stressful in the beginning,' she said. 'I only had a week to learn all the machines and the menu. Opening so soon was a total surprise.'
Cutshall changed roasting companies, redesigned the menu to include breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and worked with Corbett interior designer Sharon Hocking to create a 'comfortably rustic' decor. She changed the name and handed out fliers letting locals know of the café's change in ownership.
She also promptly roped her mom, Sherry Grey, and grandmother, Lettie Moyer, into the operation. Both are great cooks in their own right, and Cutshall called upon them to provide their signature cakes and pastries to a menu that also includes Grey's notable Chicken Curry Salad Sandwich.
'When Stacey started talking about having pastries at Stomping Grounds, I didn't think she was serious,' Moyer said. 'I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country. My mom was a baker, so we always had Shoo-fly Pie or Funny Cake. My kids grew up on them, and now the grandkids ask for them. They're gooey and rich and all made from family recipes.'
Stomping Grounds will feature Moyer's pastries at the coffee house's grand opening, as well as Grey's well-known Chocolate Kahlua Cake. But, Cutshall warns, get them while they're hot.
'We want to make the place smell sweet for the grand opening, but the pastries won't all be on the menu every day,' she said. 'We're doing free pastry samples that day so people can taste what we will have. A lot of people haven't heard of Shoo-fly Pie.'
Cutshall believes in supporting local talent as well. She plans to utilize the work of area artists partly as wall decoration, but also as a sales platform for the artist. Live music will be featured during the grand opening but also will become a regular offering, especially during the summer months.
The recent increase in foot traffic at Stomping Grounds has Cutshall encouraged that her coffee house business plan is just the right temperature for customers. Ownership is still a little surreal, she said, but blending well with the flavors of life.
'It's very real to me, since I'm here every day,' Cutshall said, 'but the grand opening will make it officially mine. A new look, a new name and a comfortable place to be.'
Who: Stomping Grounds Coffee House
What: breakfast and lunch sandwiches, blended, iced or hot mochas and lattes, house coffee, fresh baked pastries, muffins and cakes.
Where: 21825 N.E. Halsey St.
Hours of operation: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Special event: Stomping Grounds will celebrate its grand opening from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 2. Customers will be treated to free pastry samples and 'buy one, get one free' drink specials all day. Live music includes Greenish Grey, a local band featuring owner Stacey Cutshall's brother, Tyson Grey.
More information: and #8200;Call 503-661-4707.