PULLMAN — The Pullman Club Coffee Shop opens Monday, providing a cafe to people visiting the historical neighborhood.
The coffee shop was conceived as a place where people touring Pullman homes could also enjoy refreshments. It will have nitro cold brew, drip coffee and iced tea available during its opening 11 a.m.-5 pm. Monday at 605 E. 111th St.
Monday’s soft opening will give people a chance to stop by and get comfortable with the cafe while its owners prepare for it to open full-time later this year.
“We’re pretty much ready to roll, but we’ve got some work to finish up,” said Pat Shymanski, longtime Pullman resident and cofounder of the project. “We’ve had lots of obvious interest from the neighborhood and from people coming to the National Monument because it’s such a dramatic building. It’s pretty visible on 111th Street, and it’s quite big, so it gets a little bit of attention.”
The cafe will have vintage Labor Day posters and other Pullman memorabilia for its opening day — and it’ll eventually play a special role in the Pullman House Project, a project to recreate the homes of Pullman workers so the public can walk through to see what life was like when the train company dominated the neighborhood.
The project is inching toward an opening in late fall or early winter, Shymanski said. The cafe will serve as a welcome center for year-round tours of the homes.
The building the cafe is in was called the Pullman Club for more than 50 years; it was the neighborhood’s largest former community residence when Shymanski and her husband bought it.
But the cafe wasn’t always part of the plan for the Pullman House Project. The idea for it grew during the pandemic, Shymanski said.
“We’ve struggled with how we are going to fund the house project over the long haul. And by incorporating this property into the house project, it gives us the ability to have a place to start the tours and also a place to just attract a little bit of commercial activity, as well,” Shymanksi said.
Shymanski said project organizers paid for most of the restoration work of the homes, while the coffee shop was developed with funds from a Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant.
The Pullman House Project will include the Thomas Dunbar House, a 10-room executive home named for a Pullman Company employee who lived there with his family 1898-1906, and the Honeymoon Row, an apartment unit for workers from 1890 with three rooms and an early shoe repair business, according to the website.
There will also be more homes and buildings added to the tour as the project progresses, including a typical worker’s row house and additional Honeymoon Row units. Updates on the project have been shared on the Pullman House Project Facebook page.
“It’s been volunteer work on our part, and several board members from the Bielenberg Foundation have been actively involved,” Shymanski said. “We’ve done a major interior restoration. … It’s really going to be quite a pretty space, I think, when it’s fully completed.”
Shymanski said all of the project organizers have attended barista school to prepare for the coffee shop opening, but staff will be hired from the area, as well, a commitment organizers made as part of the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund program.
While Pullman has seen lots of development over the past few years, those projects haven’t included a place where neighbors can enjoy a cup of coffee, Shymanski said.
“There are several thousand people within half a mile of us that have no place to go,” Shymanski said. “I’ve not done a marketing study, but that suggests to me that we have a built-in market for local people, plus the visitors to the National Monument, and hopefully visitors to the Pullman House Project.”
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