Major remodel complete at Joe Beans

By Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer December 15, 2011 04:52 pm

It started out as a little retail space where Al and Colleen MacLeod could sell the coffee beans they were roasting at home. It ended up a full-fledged cafe complete with a stage for local performers.

Nobody’s played at Joe Beans at 1109 Adams Ave. yet, but a major remodel of the premises is complete and it won’t be long before local musicians start jamming.

For the MacLeods, it’ll be just like the old days, when they were the proprietors of the Highway 30 Coffee Company, a now-defunct cafe that once did roaring good business at the corner of Adams and Elm.

“We’ll be doing featured artist nights, where local people come in and play Bob Dylan or whoever,” said Colleen MacLeod. “When we had Highway 30, we did concerts all the time.”

Colleen MacLeod has lived in Union County since the  early 1970s. Al arrived in 1969. They are both musicians, and they’re also serial business entrepreneurs.

They operated a lunch catering truck in the 1980s, and started Highway 30 in the mid-1990s. They sold that in 1999, then started Joe and Sugar’s, a restaurant and coffee house that still does business — under different owners — at 1119 Adams.

“People are always teasing us about starting things, then selling them,” Colleen MacLeod said.

Colleen MacLeod, who was raised in Cascade Locks and studied radio broadcasting communications, art and advertising at Mount Hood Community College, worked as a journalist before moving to Union County.

She ran for and won a seat on the three-member Union County Board of Commissioners in 1996 and served three terms before stepping down in 2008.

Al MacLeod, known onstage as Too Loud MacLeod, is a musician and music teacher whose other interests include coffee. He has been batch roasting for years.

About a year and half ago, the couple opened Joe Beans, mainly to market Al’s coffees. They also sold coffee by the cup.

And one thing led to another.

“People were coming in and saying they remember the pastries and sandwiches we used to sell, and asking us to start that again,” Colleen said.

They built a menu and added some seating. As the customer base grew, the space they started out in became too small.

“It was elbow to elbow in here. We’d used up every inch,” Colleen said.

Then, Beyond Wireless, the telecommunications company that occupied the retail space next door, moved out. The MacLeods opened negotiations with Anderson Perry and Associates, the building’s owner.

It took some time to come to terms on rent, but a deal was finally struck. Now, Joe Beans is double the size, featuring a big dining area with the stage at one end. That helps a lot with the downtown lunch crowd Joe Beans mainly caters to.

Back in the old days, at Highway 30, the MacLeods booked a few musicians of national renown, including the country-folk singer Townes Van Zandt.

No schedule’s been set at Joe Beans yet, but in the future the stage will host local performers, and possibly, bigger names passing through, just like the old days at Highway 30.

“They go by on the freeway, and if they’re going to be here on a Tuesday or Thursday, why not grab them?” Colleen said.