& Sage: Requiem for a funky coffee shop
By Kelly Greenwood
Amidst the depths of winter, the
buttercream house at 100 East and 130 North in Logan
stands vacant, covered in a shroud of snow. A Coldwell
Banker sign hangs out front, announcing the house is
for sale. A taller sign colored with goldenrod, lime,
rust, brown and shades of blue hangs nearby with the
words “Citrus & Sage,” and “Gift Gallery and Espresso
Bar” in simple, elegant letters. A large wooden patio
nestles against the house, while a moss-dotted tree
grows up through the patio’s planks. The short wrought-iron
fence, on which people used to chain their bikes, lines
the property and marks a ramp leading to the front door.
Signs, once emblazoned with neon light, hang unplugged
in the front windows, and a peek inside the windows
reveals the benches, tables, and cushy chairs that populate
the otherwise empty insides. A hand-written note taped
on the inside of the front door window reads, “Thank
you all so much for your patronage.”
Nancy Weimer, owner of Citrus & Sage,
wrote that note when she closed the shop in August 2008.
She and her family moved to California, where her husband
was offered a job, and where they could raise their
family in a more diverse setting, she says. They tried
to figure out a way to keep the business going, but
decided it made more sense for them to sell it.
Weimer and her husband purchased
the house and opened Citrus & Sage in 2005 with the
goal to bring members of the community together to a
place where they could feel welcome and where they wouldn’t
feel judged because of their background or lifestyle.
From high school students to senior citizens, “everyone
was welcome,” she says. “It gave people of all different
walks of life a place to go.” This was the main reason
she opened it, she says, and instead of being a “big,
high-end coffee shop,” the shop was a community store.
She mentions that she didn’t open her coffee shop to
compete with nearby coffee shop Caffe Ibis, which lies
practically around the corner from the house on Federal
Avenue. Since Caffe Ibis closed in the early evening,
it made sense to have a place where people could gather
and have a cup of coffee at night, she explains. Often,
she and her husband would end up at Village Inn because
there was nowhere else to go in Logan to sit down and
relax at night, she says. This, she says, gave her the
idea for the shop in the first place.
Citrus & Sage didn’t just serve a
cup of coffee, however. It offered a smorgasbord of
beverages, from green, herbal and black teas to creamy
chai lattes, Italian and French sodas with a gamut of
flavors from coconut to lavender, smoothies, hot chocolate,
Raven’s Brew coffee drinks, and Caffe Ibis espresso.
It also offered a sundry assortment of snacks, including
bagels, cakes, cookies, pastries, and huge cinnamon
rolls with gobs of cream-cheese icing. The shop also
carried jewelry, whimsical greeting cards, candles,
and other gifts and acted as a gallery for local artists
to showcase their work. The shop featured a different
artist every month, Weimer says, and it also participated
in the Logan downtown gallery walk.
The “gift gallery and espresso bar”
was also host to many musical performances, Weimer says,
including Jazz Night on Thursday and Saturday nights,
which included musicians from the Utah State University
Chapter of International Association of Jazz Educators.
Citrus & Sage was also the locale of Helicon West, an
open-mic reading series for local writers and poets
that usually convened once every two weeks. Customers
could plop down in cushy fabric or black leather chairs
with a newspaper, or perch on stools at tall tables,
drinking sodas with a loved one. People often sat in
a mix of whimsical, beautiful chairs and tables and
simple fold-out chairs, which were often set up in rows
while the area around the bay window acted as a stage
for performers and poetry-readers.
In the warmer months, the patio served
as an outdoor stage for musicians- some local, some
just passing through Logan. From jazz numbers to folk
tunes, music would often waft down the street, while
listeners would linger on the patio’s wooden benches
amongst planter boxes dripping with flowers.
If the customer wandered up the steep
stairs inside the house, they would have found a bookstore
with a random assortment of used books lining several
shelves. The bookstore opened in 2007, when Weimer decided
to have a woman run the store for her. Once in April,
2007, the woman set up an incubator in the bookstore
and hatched baby chicks, Weimer says, which brought
in a lot of parents and young children to the shop.
Before the upper level was a bookstore, Weimer and her
employees hosted a wedding there.
The home also has a bit of interesting
history, Weimer says. The woodframe house was built
in 1897 and was once the home of one of three polygamist
family wives. The two buildings just north of it, now
home to Sunrise Cyclery and Global Village Gifts, respectively,
were built for the other two wives and essentially have
the same floorplan, she adds.
Weimer says she’s seen community
interest to get the business running again. Some people
are pushing to raise money in the community to run the
business as a co-op, she says. But if anyone purchases
the business, Weimer says she hopes they would run it
as it originally was-- as a place that would bring the
people of the Cache Valley community together with its
welcoming atmosphere. A place where folks can “come
in and stay a while.”