PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland's newest coffee shop opened its doors on Wednesday, serving Mexican coffee and Japanese tea in a 100-year-old warehouse in the city's industrial district.
Electrica is inside the Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. building on Northwest Nicolai Street, off of Highway 30.
The coffee shop is the seventh business by restauranteur Angel Medina and the Republica and Company Hospitality Group in two years.
The group started with Republica, a "Mexican-forward" restaurant in Portland's Pearl District known for its tasting menu. It was recently named in Bon Appetit's 10 Best New Restaurants of 2022 from around the country. Lilia Comedor, another one of the group's restaurants in South Portland, was also just named in Esquire's Best New Restaurants in America last week.
“For the amount of work we put in for the things that we are doing that other people aren't, it's no surprise to us that we are getting this recognition,” said Medina. “It's more than anything validation for all the things that we stand for.”
Republica Co. already has two other coffee shops, La Perlita and Esperanza, in Northwest and Southeast Portland. The group's biggest presence though is in the North Park Blocks, where they have La Fondita restaurant, their new Bar Comala, and a new bakery, Matutina, set to open next week.
The North Park Blocks— in Portland's Old Town which has struggled with crime, graffiti and trash — is an area that the group is determined and committed to invest in, Medina said.
"I know how important our presence there is, not just for that part of the city but also for brown folks — really for all BIPOC folks — because we need to see more of us in positions of change and positions of being able to influence the way that the city looks," he said.
Representation is another area Medina and Republic and Company strive to improve. Most of their employees are people of color, and the group's business model is a community-ownership approach that gives co-ownership to their chefs.
“The ultimate goal is to see more people like myself in positions of ownership," Medina said. "I know that sounds like a big lofty goal, but if you see the models that we're building, the restaurants that we're opening are not necessarily my restaurants in total. They are restaurants of our hospitality group. Giving ownership to our chefs, giving ownership to our partners and having them have the opportunity to do this. "
The next venture for Medina and the Republica and Company group? North Portland, as they target the St. John's neighborhood — though what that business will be is still unclear.
"We keep going back and forth as to what that is supposed to be. We're at the point where we know we want to do something special for the folks in St. Johns, and continue to tell these stories by way of food and hospitality," he said.