Java joint to relocate

Coffee Cravings will close its shop on Ninth Avenue and relocate to a new kiosk on West Poplar Street.

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They were forced out of their 9th Street location by the owners of the building who want to open their own coffee shop there.

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We're movin' on up! T-shirts and smiles greet customers as Coffee Cravings employee Misty Gonzales, above, delivers a latte at the drive-through window this morning. Coffee Cravings is moving from Ninth Avenue after 19 years there. Coffee Cravings' new location is at 801 W. Poplar St.

WALLA WALLA -- A change is brewing at Ninth Avenue caffeination station Coffee Cravings.

After nearly two decades on Walla Walla's busy thoroughfare at 213 S. Ninth Ave., the business is moving to a new building, said Susan Richard, who owns Coffee Cravings with her husband, Brian.

Friday will be the last operating day at the Ninth Avenue location. The closure will cause a temporary hiccup in the operation while construction is being completed at the new 400-square-foot kiosk at 801 W. Poplar St.

Meanwhile Coffee Cravings' second location at 1607 Isaacs Ave. will continue as usual. Richard said she hopes customers will detour to the Isaacs drive-through window. The business's 14 employees are expected to double up at that operation to help handle the extra business and to maintain their hours throughout the transition.

Richard said if the operation gets particularly busy one of the employees will step out to take orders so that drinks are ready when the vehicles funnel through.

"We just figure if we try the hardest that we can, customers will see that," Richard said.

Longtime customers of the business known for its granitas and mochas have known about the change for some time. Richard said employees began spreading the word about a month and a half ago -- immediately after the owners got the surprising news that their lease wasn't going to be renewed.

Consequently she and her husband began a rapid search for a new location. Knowing the new building wouldn't be ready by the time the existing shop closed, word was spread by word of mouth -- and wardrobe.

Employees have been advertising the change on T-shirts they wear to work. The maroon-hued shirts -- which match the Coffee Cravings logo -- say, "We're movin' on up." As walking advertisements, the employees are telling the story of the switch, Richard said.

Although the move came as a shocker to Richard, she said it's ultimately proven to be a good change.

Shortly after she learned of the lease change, she contacted Realtor and longtime Coffee Cravings customer Tish Watts about the property at 10th Avenue and Poplar Street. Coincidentally, Watts and her husband own the property.

They agreed to build the coffee business a new home with a long-term lease, Richard said.

"It was like a little gift that has fallen into place for us," she said.

The new building will allow the business to have a double drive-through lane with a small area for outdoor seating -- features Richard might not have thought were needed had the move not come about.

"Looking back on it, I think we have outgrown Ninth Street," she said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 526-8321 or vickihillhouse@wwub.com.

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