Sunlight streams through the tall windows of the former repair shop, filling the seating area with warm light. With the smell of coffee and soft music in the background, you find yourself in Salem’s newest addition to the downtown scene: Kingdom City Coffeehouse.
The Black-owned cafe is owned by couple Devin and Rebecca Brown. It joins Epilogue Kitchen owner Jonathan Jones as among the few Black-owned food spaces downtown.
The coffee shop held its grand opening in mid-September, and the two are proud to be part of the downtown community with their first food venture.
“It’s been an honor to represent the African American community in this – not just as an owner, but in coffee,” Devin said.
The Browns had discussed opening their own coffee shop for nearly a decade.
Devin attributes actually pursuing their dream to the support from the pastor at their church and other coffee shop owners. He said they felt their faith in God believing in their success was what compelled them to “do what they dreamed of.”
Devin became interested in coffee while in France for three months. He was previously a teacher in a French immersion program in Eugene, and in the country for the program. While in France, he was struck by the high quality of the coffee and espresso. When he returned to the U.S., his curiosity and love of coffee grew.
Rebecca said she “runs on coffee.” She said Devin is the face of the business since he studied coffeemaking. She takes care of administrative duties for the business.
The name Kingdom City is also linked to their faith. The couple are Christian, and Salem means, “city of peace” as written in the Book of Hebrews. Devin said they hope to bring that peacefulness to downtown.
Finding a home for their dream
Talking about opening a cafe was one thing, but the serious search for a location began in June 2022.
The Browns had looked at places prior to settling at their current spot. Ironically, the couple had actually passed the Center Street plaza space multiple times on their hunt for a spot. They were close to securing an agreement for a different location, but it fell through. The Center Street space was still open.
The couple secured the former Fast Repair space in May, but it was not fit to be a cafe, Devin said. Despite its needed renovations, he said it had huge potential because of the proximity to the apartments being built nearby.
The space got new flooring, fresh paint and other interior improvements. They had hoped to open sooner, but construction and permit delays pushed back their opening date.
The couple are gradually adding more décor and programming to the space.
What’s on the menu
At Kingdom City, you can find classic espresso, coffee and tea options. The coffee shop uses Weekend Coffee Roasters from Albany, a family-run roastery using fair-trade beans.
Non-coffee items include smoothies, Italian sodas, hot cocoa and Lotus, the cafe’s energy drink option.
Also on the menu is a limited breakfast selection, including sandwiches, muffins and scones. They are hoping to add more breakfast and lunch options soon.
Opportunities for youth customer service training
The two are hoping to move forward to the second part of their dream: a youth workforce development program that is part of the business.
The program is influenced partly by a similar program run by Isaac’s Downtown and the couple’s experience as foster parents. Devin said their children could get jobs, but they would lose them after a few shifts because they didn’t have the skills to keep the job or navigate the workplace.
The couple said they hope the eventual program will help contribute to filling in the educational gap for youth in the service industry.
Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday
Address: 354 Center St. NE