Some Riverside Town Hall employees and visitors were disappointed to see the longtime operator of the Raincross Cafe shut down about a month ago.
But they did not go without food and drink for long. Lift Coffee Roasters recently transformed the City Hall ground floor cafe into its third Riverside location.
The former operator, Provider Contract Food Service, has helped design the cafe and have managed it since it opened almost nine years ago.
Under its contract with the city, the supplier received a management fee and was supposed to share its profits with the city, but the company never declared any profits or paid anything to the city. When city officials recently attempted to renegotiate the contract, the supplier chose not to renew it.
Lift, which also has coffee shops near Riverside Plaza and in the Hunter Park neighborhood, moved in almost as soon as Provider moved. The company signed a six-month contract and agreed to pay the city 9.75% of its gross sales in the form of rent.
Lift co-owner Gio Alonso, a Riverside native and Poly High School graduate, said he was thrilled to have a downtown location, which he called ‘the heartbeat of Riverside’ .
“As Riverside’s first roasters this made sense and also gave us the opportunity to better serve our friends and neighbors,” he said.
In addition to coffee, the town hall cafe serves pastries, sandwiches, salads and juices. Alonso said Lift spent thousands of dollars remodeling the space, adding rustic wood panels, new light fixtures, and a leather sofa and chairs.
Alonso said that even though he only had a short-term contract, he wanted to stay.
City manager John Russo said Lift was the only bidder on the six-month stay, and the city will seek additional proposals before choosing a long-term coffee operator.
“There’s no question Lift is here, we’re kind of looking at what they would bring to the table,” Russo said. “If they are working well, of course, we’ll look into that.”
Some visitors to the Thursday June 1 café approved the changes.
Riverside developer Nicholas Tavaglione, who was meeting a customer in the cafe, said he had yet to taste the food, but “I like their pattern and decor.”
A few tables away was Constance Ortega, who stopped to take a break from her work at the Robert Presley Detention Center.
“I really like the new menu. The yogurt parfait is really good, ”she said.
THE COFFEE REOPENED
Riverside Town Hall Café resumes operations with a new operator.
What happened: Supplier Contract Food Service, which had managed the café since it opened in 2008, chose not to extend its contract after April
Who is there now: Lift Coffee Roasters, which runs cafes in Riverside and Whittier, remodeled the space and created a new menu
And after: Lift has a six-month contract, after which the city is expected to appoint a new long-term operator for the cafe