May 13, 2011 at 8:36am
BELOVED COFFEESHOP SAYS GOODBYE >>>
"When you build things, sometimes they break," Beyond the Bridge Cafe (BBC) co-owner Ben Rubke tells me with a solemn, sad look in his eyes. I look back at him, accepting his grief, ultimately tearing my heart into pieces.
Beyond the Bridge Café will close its doors for good tonight - the reason for my conversation with Rubke, who anticipates locking up for good around midnight, or whenever the last straggler finally heads out the door. The decision to close was made recently, and Rubke says the factors behind it are varied.
People love Beyond the Bridge Cafe. I love Beyond the Bridge Cafe. The love is about the people behind the business: where they came from, their story, their staff, their love for the community and the fact that they are the community.
And, of course, people love BBC for the coffee.
From the beginning (November 2006), BBC didn't try to re-invent the wheel when co-owners Ben and Trish Rubke opened the doors of their little coffee shop in Sumner's Old Cannery parking lot. Instead, they simply created their own wheel, which rolled in a unique and artistic way. Full of soul and passion, the Rubkes, along with all past employees, made every space BBC inhabited one of entertainment and warmth.
Notable past employees are local talents Travis Barker (Black Sails), Kate Monthy (MLK Ballet) and Michael Hochstatter (The Cloves). It was actually Hochstatter who brought BBC to the attention of the Weekly Volcano, writing a letter requesting paper distribution at their Sumner location back in 2007.
Monthly live music events known as Live at the BBC were sell-out hits, held mainly for the purpose of promoting unknown talent and gathering community. Once the business moved to its Sixth Avenue location in 2010, "The Phoenix," a variety-type dance and music show, took over, providing grand entertainment and a hopeful display of what was to come for the new Tacoma BBC.
In the end, love was not enough for the BBC. Love doesn't pay the bills, nor does it always heal the hurt.
The Tacoma rumor mill is a vicious beast, one in which Ben Rubke is all too familiar with. When asked, he replies, "Yes, the rumors are true." Then, taking a deep breath, he adds, "I'm heading to the Yukon to take up with the fur trade."
I smile at his courage to attempt humor during a time of personal sadness.
"I'm not going anywhere, and I will definitely be back. I'm not done here, I just need to step away, get grounded and come back at a different angle. I need to fix what's broken," says Rubke.
Hurry back, Ben. We'll be waiting.
Off duty rules.
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