A husband-and-wife duo is importing a foreign cafe concept into RiNo.
Amy Cohen and Hayden Barnie plan to bring Japanese and Australian-inspired Stowaway Coffee and Kitchen to 2528 Walnut St. this fall. It’s a breakfast, lunch and coffee stop where the couple hopes their food menu will set them apart from standard coffee shops.
“We’re trying to bridge the gap between specialty coffee and breakfast and lunch,” Cohen said. “We were researching the city and in this area, coffee and food is exploding and people come here to look for something new.”
Stowaway is inspired by Japanese and Australian cafes Barnie and Cohen saw while living abroad over the last decade, where they said meals don’t take a back seat to coffee. The couple signed a lease on the 1,300-square-foot restaurant last year and hopes to open September.
Dishes will average about $10 a plate with items including a tomato chutney with toasted cheese bread (“cheese toastie” in Australia); salt and vinegar root hash; and shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish made of poached eggs and chili sauce.
Cohen and Barnie’s focus on food came at a considerable cost. They needed to add a commercial range hood in the restaurant’s kitchen – a $20,000 investment Cohen said most coffee shops don’t need to bother with.
That project entailed cutting new exhaust holes in the roof of the building and installing ventilation and fire control systems. To come up with the cash, they turned to crowdsourcing. After a 30-day Indiegogo campaign, the couple hit their $20,000 goal on the nose.
“The range hood basically is what separates us from a coffee shop,” Cohen said. “It enables us to have a full-service kitchen, so we can make things with steam and gas – if you have anything cooking without a range hood, you will get shut down.”
Construction at Stowaway started earlier this year, but Barnie and Cohen said the permitting process has slowed the build down. Cohen said Stowaway will use beans from Denver-based Boxcar Coffee Roasters.
The building is being designed by Dean Ricci of Denver-based Hive Architects, and Kalamath Street’s Jones Custom Builders is handling construction.
Cohen and Barnie had originally planned to open Stowaway in Oakland, but a 2014 trip to Denver to visit Cohen’s brother convinced the couple to settle down a mile high.
Cohen, 31, and Barnie, 37, met while they were traveling in Japan eight years ago. Cohen, whose mother is Japanese, had been working as a teacher when she met New Zealand native Barnie, another member of her English teaching program.
When Barnie moved to Australia to work for roaster Coffee Supreme, Cohen followed him. The two married and Cohen ended up working for Coffee Supreme, as well.
“That was my first introduction to specialty coffee,” Cohen said. “We stayed there for another four years fully involved in that industry, and decided to bring it back here. This is an extension of Australian coffee culture.”