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The Bean Scene The Coffee Club, An All-Ages Espresso Bar, Has Whooshed Its Way To Success

Frenzied verses roared, guitars lashed and machine-gunlike drums raced. Death-metal band Indika rumbled away like a thunderclap gathering steam.

Colorful teenagers packed a small, dimly lighted room and circled a makeshift stage at The Coffee Club. A handful slammed into one another as they danced in a mosh pit while others strained to catch a glimpse of the band over the swirly crowd.

When Indika’s 20-minute flurry had ended, most of the music lovers raced back into the main room at the all-ages club at 3110 N. Division for a coffee refill before the next band.

“You see them all rush in, and when it’s over, they all rush out,” said Leticia Lenz, a North Central High School sophomore, explaining the club’s migration pattern.

A variety of bands, flavored coffees and a hip owner have teens hanging out at the club in droves.

As many as five regional bands share center stage on weekend nights, allowing about 200 teens a place to party until the early morning hours. The cover charge is $3.

Between shows, teens crowd around tables in the smoky club, sipping designer java imported from Italy, nibbling on French fries and swapping stories.

About a half dozen also get an ear, nose, tongue, eye brow or other body part pierced by Ryan Crowley, who carries his bag of piercing equipment with him.

“At this place we actually have something to do while the bands are setting up,” said NC sophomore Duane Cooper.

The Coffee Club is trying to captivate the often-overlooked, under-21 audience. It is open seven days a week and around the clock on weekends.

Complete with a pool table, video games and darts, the club offers teens the ambience of a bar without the alcohol.

“Everything is always done in a good, party-type mode,” said owner Mike Vasquez. “They’re here to have a good time as young people should.”

The Coffee Club opened in September and quickly attracted a loyal following.

“There’s always good company,” said NC junior Brad Dahlquist, who visits regularly on weekends. “It’s a pretty friendly atmosphere.”

“Everyone knows each other,” added 19-year-old Kris Maynard, a Shadle Park graduate.

Vasquez, and his wife, Brenda, decided to take a chance on the caffeine cantina because of the popularity of similar clubs in Portland. When they began recruiting up-andcoming local bands to perform on weekends, the club took off.

“Spokane really needed a good all-age hangout,” said Mike Vasquez, a Portland native.

Previous attempts at running successful all-age clubs in Spokane have failed, but Vasquez thinks he found the recipe for success.

The menu is eclectic, ranging from chicken cordon bleu and steamer clams to quiche, a full compliment of appetizers, and - of course - coffee.

“We don’t cut any corners,” Vasquez said.

The burly former bouncer’s attitude doesn’t hurt either, teens said, calling Vasquez a big reason why the club has a chance to make it.

Vasquez, 35, is at ease among his young customers and considers many friends. He talks to them like he’s the big brother in a large family.

“He opens his arms to you,” said a 15-year-old girl who only wanted to be known as Charlotte. “He’s not like a father-figure. He listens to you. He understands because he’s been around.

“He just looks at you like a person,” Charlotte continued, sweeping aside the green-tinted locks of hair that tickled her face.

Like everyone else, she hopes the club will succeed.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 2 Color photos

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