“Well this sure is a crap-hole,” I said.
“Gee hon, what do you really think? It’s not that bad,” chided my husband jokingly, as he opened the door to go inside.
“Hmmpf,” was all the retort I could muster that day. It was early in the morning and I really needed some coffee before my wit had a chance to wake up.
“Hey…we can always go next door over there and get some coffee when we are done here?” he laughed.
I looked over to where he was pointing and saw the little barbecue joint there looking like it was about to topple over. An asthmatic Big Bad Wolf could huff and wheeze that thing over. Forget the old arsenic and old lace plan for killing me, I thought…he’s trying to get me with food poisoning.
11 years ago now, my husband and I walked into this dingy old building located on south Commercial street to sign mortgage documents for our home purchase here in Salem Oregon. Totally out of place in a parking lot, it stood at the corner with an outdated looking strip mall behind it and a small barbecue joint called the Barbecue Pit across the parking lot. Forget a good pressure washing, these buildings just looked liked they needed a good bulldozing.
A few years later, I noticed that the bank was no longer using the building and it just sat…and sat…and sat. Vacant. The Barbecue Pit South, which was one of Salem’s last remaining diners from the 1960’s eras closed (we still have Court St Dairy Lunch and Whites). Despite making fun of the state of their building, I’m always melancholy when a long standing business closes. In March of 2007, the buildings were demolished and then the rumor mill started in Salem as construction began.
“It’s another Starbucks,” whispered one local. “Like we need another one of those!” was the retort. A Quizno’s, Subway…on and on the locals took their guesses about what this small little building was going to be. Then the signs went up to satisfy our curiosity and dispel the local rumor mill.
“I hear they will have crepes,” said one local excitedly.
“And some fancy schmancy coffee,” mumbled another. Coffee culture is powerful in the Pacific Northwest. You just gotta live here to understand it.
French Press is located in the Candalaria neighborhood on the corner of Candalaria Boulevard and Commercial. Taking a decaying old restaurant building and turning it into a popular spot for coffee lovers, this place is typically busy. French Press sits where the old BBQ Pit was and the bank building is gone and is part of the often full parking lot. The biggest complaint by the locals is that they should have made it bigger. and during busy times, you probably won’t find a table. If you haven’t tried French Press, I’ve talked about their Kona blend before…only for experienced coffee drinkers. Their crepes are tasty, and I prefer the savory crepes as their sweet crepes tend to be a bit sweet for me. Hubby though…hooked on the berry crepes as is my son.
French Press sits in the Candalaria Mall which also houses Bakery D’mour, Blackberries, and yes…a Quizno’s at this time. The whole building was done as part of this renovation project. If you are considering moving here, this is just one more great example of Salem Oregon going through the rejuvenation process and turning those ugly duckings into swans.
P.S. The first two of key bank were taken by Robert West. He allowed me to use them in this post. You can see the originals of Salem Oregon and many more he took of that area on his webpage which is kind of cool and you should check it out! The photo of the old BBQ Pit/La Perla was taken by Salem Man of the Eat Salem Blog. Used with permission.