Aryana Buck and Evan Meyer plan to open Empire Coffee in the restored Empire Building on the corner of North 12th Street and Tower Avenue.
Empire Block LLC owner Mark Hubbard confirmed the coffee shop is one of two businesses eyeing spots in the historic 1892 building. The other is in the process of final lease negotiations.
"We're 99.9 percent of the way there," Buck said Tuesday, a signature away from the new venture.
She and Meyer envision the shop at 1204 Tower Ave., as a hub for all kinds of coffee from a variety of roasters.
"Like a tap house for coffee," Buck said. "We want to be more modern, but call back to the roots of the building."
They expect the business to open March 1.
Buck brings years of experience in the food industry to the partnership. She said Meyer, a University of Wisconsin-Superior graduate, provides business know-how and finance savvy. This is the first business for both entrepreneurs.
The pair is focusing on local sourcing options, including Duluth-based Alakef Coffee, its Twin Cities offshoot City Girl and the Hayward-based Backroads Coffee. There will be no kitchen on site, but Empire Coffee plans to carry a variety of treats from the Wednesday Bakery, which opens every Wednesday two blocks away.
They expect to add woodwork and a coffee bar that fits the historical building's decor, created by neighboring TW Wood Design.
"All our focus is on small business," Buck said. "That's what Superior needs right now. That's what's going to make our economy boom."
The space, Buck said, is gorgeous, with ornate tin plaques on the ceiling.
"It looks great; it's coming along beautifully," she said.
They want to offer a spot where people can come, hang out, study and get that downtown vibe.
"We're hoping to offer a quality atmosphere for everybody," Buck said, and quality coffee and a reasonable price.
Hubbard said building restoration efforts are wrapping up, and the 15 apartments in the upper floors should be available for rent by Jan. 1. Historical preservation is complex, he said, and there are still a few small details that need approval, like building signage and awnings. Hubbard said an open house will be planned once work is complete.
Empire Block LLC is leasing out commercial space in the building. Bachand Group Property Management is handling apartment rentals. For more information, visit the Empire Block LLC. Facebook page, www.empireblockllc.com or www.bachandgroup.com.