People were not happy when Boiler Room Coffee closed in June. To many Stevens Square-Loring Heights residents, this coffee shop was a crucial third space for them. A place to go that wasn’t work or home. A community space where they could chat with neighbors like Denny.
John Kiel and Andrew Clarkson were two of those residents.
“I was really sad,” Kiel said. He would visit the coffee shop every day with Clarkson.
When Kiel heard about the coffee shop closing, he thought to himself, maybe Andrew and I should buy it.
Kiel didn’t say anything though.
When Kiel told Clarkson the sad news, the first thing Clarkson said was, “Maybe we should buy it.”
And just like that, Boiler Room Coffee is set to reopen September 1. Same place, same hours, same vibe.
Kiel and Clarkson are not remodeling the cafe but doing some improvements. They are resurfacing the floor and installing an energy-efficient cooling system.
Regulars may see some familiar faces behind the counter, but Kiel and Clarkson are also hiring part-time baristas and starting all employees out at $15/hour.
Boiler Room Coffee will also now be queer-owned and operated.
“We are part of the queer coffee cartel,” Kiel said, jokingly referring to a perceived boom in queer-owned coffee shops, such as Cuppa Java in Bryn Mawr and Muffin Top Cafe in Loring Park.
The co-owners and romantic partners are not concerned with the coffee shop’s future.
“Michael [Graca] didn’t close it because it was failing,” Clarkson said of the previous owner. “It was because he needed to spend time with his kids.” Graca operated Boiler Room Coffee for 11 years.
Kiel and Clarkson close on the business sale this week, but do not own the building. According to Kiel, the new building’s owner “really wants a coffee shop here.”