Cafe Red and the Growing Empire of Red Castle

Cafe RedCafe Red really does, in fact, cometh. We weren’t just blowing smoke. (Hey, the sign told us so.)

At the time, we could only excite in our own speculation. We knew there was an idea of a game-themed cafe. We knew the gamers would be there. And we knew they’d probably caffeinate themselves. One could only induce, then, that they’d stay longer into the night.

But we didn’t know the scope of the project when we first heard of the plan, and we could have easily just assumed it would be as simple as adding an espresso machine to an expanding game store.

It isn’t, though. It’s more than that. And it’s exciting.

Foster PlazaFirst, a bit of history.

Once, there was a coffee shop in this plaza: Guapo Comics and Coffee. But that was before they were in the space next to the dart store…before they closed..and before N.W.I.P.A. moved in.  In its wake? A lonely pipe-store-private-pot-club anchoring one end, and a poker room at the other. Red Castle joined them in 2010, only to have the others leave shortly after. Red Castle then moved into the bigger end space, and the martial arts studio soon took the other. The Portland Ketchup Company eventually set up shop, leaving just the original game space as the last empty storefront. With the remaining space available, Red Castle pounced. Boom, world domination. And for the first time in a long, long time, the plaza is full.

Screen shot 2014-07-21 at 8.29.02 PMOne more bit of history.

There is a precedent for thriving business in this commercial strip. The space that we now know as Foster Plaza was once a grocery store. Yep, the Foster District had its own grocery store with fresh produce and all. The owner of that store had some kids…and then those kids had kids and brothers…and they now own the current space. And thanks to Matthew Mičetić, the Red Castle gang, and the cafe’s project manager, Natalie Caulkins, some glory is being restored to the building.

What was originally posed as a late-night cafe for gamers–where coffee and snacks would fuel the neighboring customers–is, well, just that…but way more radder and awesomer and nerdier and fantastical. Sure, it’s a cafe. Coffee, espresso…great. But, paninis? And soup? Yes! And a doughnut robot (yes, a doughnut robot). And fancy, game-themed tables to dine/drink/play on. All of that. Plus they have plans to build a full kitchen for an expanded menu. Aaaand…they’ll be open until two or three in the morning.

IMG_1265Whoa! I haven’t been this excited since the city said they’d start construction on the Foster Streetscape Plan in 2014. That won’t happen. So this is my new fascination.

It should be yours, too. Here are the specifics:

Read above. Or read it again here: espresso, paninis, soup, doughnuts, shaved ice, kitchen, game-themed tables, and late nights. Oh, and they won’t even be competing with Pieper or Speedboat–doors won’t open until 4 p.m.

“So you’re telling me you’ll be able to do more than just drink on Foster at night?”

Yes. Even more reason to be excited. And someday–when they build their planned full kitchen–you’ll be able to eat pizza (maybe) or burgers (perhaps). That’s another dinner option. And that many more people walking up and down Foster. And that many more people hanging out at night that aren’t just part of the bar scene.

IMG_1264First thing’s first, though. Cafe Red is scheduled to open later in the Fall, maybe as late as December. The cafe will have its own entrance on Foster, with an adjoining window (where orders could be placed) or door connecting to the game store. (The window vs door concept is undecided.) The space itself will have a kitchen in the back with the cafe positioned either in front of it (leaving the front open for seating) or closer to the front windows (where the doughnut robot could be properly displayed by the sidewalk). Between it all will be tables and sitting areas. You’ll be able to order espresso drinks, soups, sandwiches, and get a donut from the robot.

“But I’m not a gamer…”

It’s ok, this is where nerds and neighbors come together. You want a bowl of soup to warm you on a winter’s eve? Or maybe a mocha to go with your book or game of chess at night? Cafe Red will soon be your place.

Not only is the Red Castle empire creating another place for Foster-ites to hang out, play, and eat, they’re improving the overall environment and adding jobs. They’re like their own economic engine, propelling Foster forward. And we’re glad they are.

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3 Responses to Cafe Red and the Growing Empire of Red Castle

  1. 62ndgarden says:

    I might become a gamer just so I can hang out there! I’m already planning to develop a crush on the doughnut robot.

  2. MattSE60th says:

    So very cool. Thanks for the history and the old photo. I love seeing those old shots of our city, and especially of our hood.

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