Downtown Tacoma now has another option for that morning or afternoon cup of brew, and the shop happens to be nestled right in the heart of the booming downtown district. Rain City Café and Coffee Company opened its doors on Sept. 10, the brainchild of a few men who used to work in the pizza industry.
Owners Richard Dreistadt, Dwayne Straume and Lazlo Sioutix all met years ago when they were franchisees with Domino’s Pizza. “We’d known each other for 16 years, done business together, and two years ago after we were done with Domino’s, Dwayne called me up and wanted to take over Mike’s East Coast Sandwiches,” Dreistadt said. “From there, we went and bought a café at Antioch University in Seattle in Sept. 2009 and that’s how got we got our feet wet in coffee.”
As owners of Mike’s East Coast Sandwiches, the company now does wholesale for Harborview Hospital and Top Pot Donuts in Seattle and just got into Forza Coffee further south. “As a result of Forza, we got exposure to Tacoma, Puyallup, and Lacey and opened up the café here and do distribution out of it,” Dreistadt said. “We’re here because I like the downtown Tacoma area. I grew up down here and it’s grown drastically from 20 years ago.”
An important element to the café, the panini grilled Mike’s East Coast sandwiches, are made fresh daily, are customizable, served hot and provide a lot of bang for the buck. The Mike’s East Coast Signature sandwich, for example, features pesto mayonnaise, provolone, mortadella (an Italian cold cut), salami, tomatoes, onions and marinated peppers on a roll. All sandwiches come with a bag of chips. A full-sized order comes to $6.95 and special sandwiches of the day will only ring in at $5.50. The Caprese is a popular pick for non-meat eaters and features pesto mayonnaise, balsamic vinegar, basil, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Other food favorites at Rain City: salads, soups, pastries and breakfast sandwiches which include a bacon, ham or sausage omelet made with egg, green onion and cheddar on an English muffin; a Pesto Omelet which comes stacked with egg, tomato, pesto and cheddar; and the Vegi Delight Omelet which features egg, mushroom, onion, tomato and cheddar.
In addition to its specialty sandwich and food items the café has become known for, Rain City’s coffee drinks keep downtown dwellers and employees caffeinated and satisfied with an array of interesting drinks. The shop uses Stewart Brothers coffee, and owner David Stewart makes a special roast just for the Tacoma coffee shop.
Though the shop hasn’t been open long, store manager Emily Decker has already noticed that regular customers have decided on their favorite fall drinks pretty quickly. “The pumpkin spice latte is definitely a favorite. We’re really big into having a variety here. We have 35 flavors, and half of those are fruit for Italian sodas. Peppermint, white chocolate, pumpkin spice, maple and eggnog are some popular holiday flavors. If a customer wants something we don’t have, we can order it 95 percent of the time. I think our peppermint white chocolate mocha accounts for about 25 percent of our drinks sold,” Decker laughed.
“I’ve worked for Starbucks in coffee and have gone to many shops and we wanted to stand out from rest. So every morning between 7-9 a.m. and afternoon from 3-5 p.m., we have happy hour and drinks are on special such as $2 for a mocha or a flavored latte. It includes syrups, extra shots, etc. These drinks would normally be between $4-$5. Some people come in every day because the prices are so good and it’s great coffee,” Decker said.
In addition to being a mainstay for excellent coffee and food, Rain City will become an artistic hub in Tacoma as well. Starting on Nov. 19 and then happening every third Friday from then on, the shop will hold an open mic poetry event with former Tacoma Poet Laureate Antonio Edwards acting as host. The event will extend the café’s hours and take place 7-10 p.m. Desserts, coffee, paninis and breakfast sandwiches will all be available, and Decker wants to eventually include music as part of the lineup. “We want this to become the Friday night place,” she said.
The general ambiance of Rain City Café also helps to attract people inside the shop and stay awhile. Calm paint schemes, unique decorations and large open windows feel inviting to those working or just taking a break in the day. Free Wi-Fi is another big draw, as well as the café’s large space, many tables, fireplace, apple cinnamon candles burning and corners for reading.
Rain City Café and Coffee Company is located at 744 Market St. Regular hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and happy hours take place from 7-9 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. For more information, stop by the location or call (253) 383-2233.