by Brittany Sailors
If you live in Eagle, you are likely familiar with the little church-turned-coffeehouse proudly standing along Eagle Rd, in the heart of our city. Rembrandt’s Coffeehouse has become a community staple since opening its doors in 2004. So what do you do when your favorite place to gather closes its doors temporarily? I, for one, ask questions. Namely, why? As an Idaho native, I have seen hundreds of beverage and dining establishments come and go, most not so shockingly. When a place with rave reviews and nary an empty seat shuts down, my curious nature will not let me rest until I’ve learned why.
When I discovered Rembrandt’s was closed for remodeling, I had a stronger emotional reaction than I ever would have imagined. Unanswered questions quickly filled my mind.
Why are they remodeling?
Did they change ownership?
Will they still provide the same experience?
Will they still serve coffee?
Will our favorite coffeehouse be nothing more than a memory?
To any casual observer, my somewhat panicked response may seem a bit outlandish. “It’s just another coffeehouse,” one might say. The truth of the matter is, for many, Rembrandt’s had become more than “just another coffeehouse”. It’s where we’ve shared long conversations, built new relationships, poured out our hearts, and celebrated our lives. It was in the fresh morning air of the patio seats one summer where I spent hours each week listening to my grandparents recount their youth and inquire about mine. The two memories are so intertwined I can hardly think of one without the other. It’s where I spent hours hammering out homework in college and even more time plugging away on my laptop as a writer. I celebrated the impending birth of my second child with family and friends pouring in, to shower us with love. I’ve soaked in the sun of the quaint patio and cozied up with a frothy latte inside the vaulted room that once housed a congregation of worshipers. It’s safe to say I’ve developed a love for this little coffeehouse that goes far beyond the product they serve.
Reopened at Last – First Impressions
It was by pure happenstance that I was driving by last October and noticed cars in the parking lot again. I had an hour before I needed to be anywhere else. Overjoyed with my fortunate timing, I elected to make a quick stop, eager to rediscover the place housing so many of my memories. As I approached the old, familiar doorway, I noticed it now read Rembrandts Downtown Eagle. My anxiety began to wane. Perhaps this namesake had maintained the charm of our much-loved coffeehouse after all. Once inside, I was delighted to find a refreshing, modern palette, and furnishings — the walls a soothing gray and the counter a crisp white stone. It all felt so new, yet reassuringly similar. The pew adorning the entryway reassured me that whatever changes were in store; the heart of this establishment remained the same. The building, an 1800’s-era church, has a rich history and it appeared the remodel had provided some much-needed updating, while maintaining a few mementos in homage to the building’s original purpose.
I asked the cheerful server behind the counter, with nervous timbre, the question I’m sure she’s heard hundreds of times since reopening. “Are you guys still Rembrandt’s then?” She must have sensed my unease because she quickly reassured me they are still providing coffee and a relaxing environment, with the added benefit of a dinner and wine menu. Instantly, I was sold. A place I can eat dinner and enjoy an expertly crafted cup of coffee? What’s not to love about that match made in heaven? I ordered a breakfast sandwich and a latte and settled into a booth along the far wall. Within minutes of receiving my order, I began an emotional journey where each savory bite and velvety sip took me further from the rush of my busy schedule and closer to a peaceful presence in the moment. My favorite coffeehouse was quickly becoming my favorite eatery. I knew then, I wanted to learn more about this newly imaged Rembrandts Downtown Eagle.
A couple of weeks later I met with Dale Willman and CJ Cacioppo, the new owners, to ask the questions I thought Eagle residents would be asking. I was thrilled with what I learned, and I think you will be too.
New Owners and Fresh Concepts
Rembrandt’s previous owners, Mark and Jeanette Priddy, were presented with an opportunity to grow their non-profit organization, Full Circle Exchange. The organization is dedicated to empowering underserved women and items made by partners in the program could be found for sale throughout the coffeehouse prior to closing. Desiring to keep alive the community hub Rembrandt’s Coffeehouse had become, the Priddy’s offered the purchase option to one of their first employees, CJ Cacioppo. CJ had served in a management capacity upon original opening and was an ideal successor to the Rembrandt’s legacy. CJ approached long-time family friends, Dale and Beverly Willman, with the offer, as they’d conversed numerous times about seeking a business partnership. They knew this was the opportunity they’d been waiting for. The two also knew they wanted to continue the heritage Rembrandt’s had established, while refreshing their look and offerings. After months of construction, Rembrandt’s Coffeehouse reopened its doors as Rembrandts Downtown Eagle. A Grand Opening ceremony held in November 2016 introduced Eagle to a dinner service worth salivating over.
Sip, Savor, and Satiate
One significant difference I noticed upon entry was the host’s stand, rolled into place at the end of the vestibule where a line typically forms at the counter. Dale and CJ informed me that beginning at 4:00 pm Monday through Saturday, the counter service shifts to table service for a full dinner and wine menu. I asked them what prompted the new offerings. “We felt the community of Eagle was asking for a new place to eat dinner,” said Dale. CJ informed me he worked closely with Wine Director, Greg Neruda, in listening to the desires of the surrounding community. These inputs served as the guiding light by which many offerings were decided upon.
I perused the dinner menu and peered inconspicuously at the nearby tables to discover what culinary delights might await me. “Elegant comfort food,” is how they described their selection. Clams, Ahi Tar Tare, and Chicken and Waffles, to name a few, had me in firm agreement as I considering calling my husband to notify him he was on his own for dinner. The wine list, a collection of both local and noteworthy vintners, provided something for every palate.
“But what of the coffee selection?” I asked. I was curious if the emphasis on quality would be at the forefront with so many menu items contending for the spotlight. Not to be upstaged by dinner, their coffee selection is as authentic as ever. Their roaster, Artine Yapoujian, is of Armenian descent and grew up roasting coffee as a young child in Lebanon. Now living in Boulder, CO, Artine gives back to the community through Beans and Bridges, a non-profit organization which assists growers in obtaining land ownership, primarily in locations where women rarely have equal rights.
A Community Hub
The owners are intent on listening to the community to determine the types of special offerings we will experience when visiting Rembrandts Downtown Eagle. Wine clubs, live music, and the desire to accommodate special events were topics of conversation as I spoke to Dale and CJ about their plans for community enrichment.
When I asked what they’ve enjoyed most about their journey through business ownership, both spoke emphatically about the relationships they were developing and the resulting sense of community bringing them joy. During the Grand Opening celebration, employees decided to donate their collective tips to a family in need this Christmas. Touched by their generosity and community spirit, Dale and CJ matched their contribution.
I wanted to know what was in store for the future of Rembrandts Downtown Eagle. Would they be looking to expand or grow their offerings down the road? CJ’s response to my question was proof Rembrandts’ heart for the community was as alive as ever. “We want to produce excellence in whatever we decide to do. We don’t know where the future leads but we know we will provide a sense of community and a culture which brings people together and gives them a sense of belonging.”
rembrandtseagle.com • 93 S Eagle Rd, Eagle • 208.938.1564