Plans for a boutique hotel at King and Webster streets stalled last summer after the property was sold, but something new might be afoot for that block in the First Settlement District. Tori Gerding, owner of Ancora Coffee, heard from her landlord that she would not be given the option to renew her lease at 112 King St. due to potential redevelopment.
The lease isn’t up until February 2019, but Gerding didn’t feel like she could pass up the opportunity to move across the street when the Kitchen Gallery went out of business.
“I honestly don’t know where we would have moved to if this spot hadn’t opened up,” she says. “I hate to even think about not being on King Street — all of these business owners on our block are such a tight knit crew. We all share a lot of the same customers and are always looking out for each other.”
Gerding is not breaking her current lease but is taking on two leases, which is less than ideal but may have been the only way to keep her business in the area she loves so much. “It was our best option for staying on the block and securing our new home for hopefully another 24+ years,” she says. That should appease her regular customers, many of whom she says make daily purchases from her.
The new space, a former home to Tutto Pasta Cucina Italiano, will need a full renovation to turn it from retail back into food service, starting in the back of the house. “The kitchen floor is still there,” Gerding says. “That’s about it. The rest of the kitchen will need to be rebuilt.”
Along with a full, shiny new kitchen will come a full food menu for the first time on King Street. It will match the menu of the University Avenue space, created by chef Evan Braun. Gerding describes it as a perfect mix of sweet and savory classic brunch items with a modern twist. Some planned menu items (available March 19 at the University location) include honey bacon biscuits with egg, cheddar, chives and sriracha honey, a turkey avocado sandwich with Ney’s Big Sky turkey, herb aioli and baby kale, and blueberry mint pancakes with mint mascarpone. New drinks will be unveiled too, including hibiscus margaritas and mint cold brew.
“Being able to offer a full food menu is huge for us,” Gerding says. When she took over Ancora five years ago, her main goal was to expand the food offerings. “Teaming up with chef Evan on our new University Avenue space and now again on this new space has made that goal a reality. His vision and passion for the food we are serving makes me really excited to do this again so soon and bring it to our downtown customers.”
As for the front of the house, the entire space is getting a total facelift, according to Gerding. (“Except for the floors — those are thick epoxy and I’m not going to even attempt to tackle that.”) Her goal is to make it feel like an extension of her own home, complete with wallpaper, which she jokes she’s addicted to. There will be “pops of color, greenery… comfy booth seating, and a long bar down the center of the room. I want it to be relaxing, enjoyable and memorable for our customers,” she says. The previous Ancora owners created the current space, so she’s looking forward to putting her own stamp on the new one. “For the last few years it has kind of felt like living at your parents’ place,” she says. “You feel at home, but it’s not quite your own.”
The atrium that abuts the new space presents another opportunity as well. While there will be limited sidewalk seating, Gerding will look at using the sunlit atrium for more seating on weekends if the demand is there.
The new lease starts in mid-April, and Gerding will begin with renovations from day one, with hopes to have the new space open by the beginning of June. “Our goal is to continue to grow with this neighborhood, creating a community space that people truly feel welcome and like family,” she says. “Somewhere I feel proud to bring my daughter, filled with staff and customers all making our little community a more amazing place to call home.”