Dreams come true! Just ask Winfield and Joy Durham, owners of Sisters Coffee Company. Their dream of actually owning the property at 273 W. Hood Ave. and building a spacious and inviting coffee shop will soon become a reality. The Durhams plan to open their new coffee shop to the public on Saturday, June 4.
It’s been a long road for Winfield and Joy to get to where they are today.
The Durhams moved from Sitka, Alaska to Sisters in April of 1988. They began renting the little shop on Hood Avenue in January of 1989 and have been there ever since.
Winfield and Joy rented the property for just $350 per month and soon asked if they could rent the shed out back for storage for an additional $100 per month. Just two short years later the property was put on the market with a sale price of $85,000. With the business so new the Durhams didn’t feel they could purchase the property.
The land was bought by two elderly sisters who continued to rent the property to the Durhams. Winfield and Joy rented on a month-to-month basis and never signed a lease agreement.
“In retrospect,” said Joy, “we were very vulnerable. They (the owners) could have sold or developed the property and we would have been forced to move.”
In 1999 the Durhams felt they had outgrown the little shop and knew something had to change. They approached the sisters who owned the property and asked if they’d be willing to sell.
Joy said, “They (the owners) told us no but if they ever wanted to sell they’d sell to us.”
The Durhams kept approaching the sisters about a sale but the answer was always no.
“Then, in April of 2002,” said Joy, “the Lord told us to write down the address of the property, 273 W. Hood Ave., on a piece of paper and ask for the land. We did that and placed it in a bowl on our dining room table. Then, we wrote down scripture verses and staked them into the ground at the four corners of the property and asked God for the land. Immediately after that we prayed and then we called the owners.”
The Durhams were informed the land was not for sale at that time but that it might be for sale the following year.
Exactly a year later, April, 2003 the Durhams made another call to the owners and asked if they’d be interested in looking at an offer on the property and were finally given the answer they’d been waiting for: Yes!
Work began on the site in September 2004.
“In the beginning we thought we’d raise our kids in Sisters and sell a little coffee,” said Joy. “We never imagined our business would grow so much we’d have a shop we’d only dreamed about. It’s been my vision to build something in between a Montana lodge and a true western saloon.” The building is 6,000 square feet, with 2,000 feet allotted just for the wholesale end of the business and the roasting process. The upstairs includes two 500-square-foot commercial office spaces that will be rented out.
Retail space has expanded from a tiny, cramped area to 2,500 square feet. The interior of the building is made entirely of knotty pine and juniper. Customers will be able to come inside, make themselves comfortable in leather couches and chairs and during the cooler times of the year enjoy a blazing fire in front of a 30-foot floor-to-ceiling river rock fireplace. A loft overlooks the fireplace where additional seating will be available for customers.
“I want to make it homey,” said Joy, “and I want everyone to feel welcome.”
The Durhams plan to expand their pastry menu from both Sisters Bakery and Angeline’s Bakery and will also have some lunch specials.
“We’re going to have some comfort food,” said Joy. “Forget the low carb stuff. It’s overrated.”
Whether it’s for nostalgic reasons or not, Joy is keeping one item from the old shop.
“I’m keeping the front door of our old building,” said Joy. “I’m going to turn it into a coffee table and I want our customers to come in and write their stories and memories down about our shop.”
During the first week in August the Durhams plan to hold a two-day Grand Opening celebration. The whole town is invited.