West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse owner Cheryl Michaud announced last week after seven years in the business that she was selling to employees Wayne Johnson and Aaron Parker.
Michaud plans to retire from the business.
Johnson and Parker will take ownership on Feb. 13, when the name of the shop will change to Chimera Coffee to reflect the pair’s new approach and the theme already started in the hotel next door.
The Charles Inn, which includes the space in which the coffee shop is located, closed a little more than a year ago for extensive renovations. When it reopens this spring, it will be renamed the Phoenix Inn, which was the hotel’s original name for decades until former owners changed it to the Charles Inn in 2003.
The coffee cafe has become a fixture among residents and employees downtown known for its red rocking chairs outside on the sidewalk in the square. It is the latest downtown business to change hands.
“We wanted to choose a name that reflected us as the owners and our approach to coffee, and also complimented the Phoenix Inn,” Parker said. “The phoenix and the chimera are both creatures from Greek mythology, so they go really well together. But it’s also a name that’ll allow us to stand on our own.”
Chimera Coffee gets its name from the hybrid lion-goat-snake creature that appears in Homer’s Iliad. The shop will continue to serve Maine-roasted coffee and espresso beverages, plus house-made pastries and grab-and-go lunch items, from its cozy shop in West Market Square in downtown Bangor.
Parker said the name Chimera fits because they want to offer a wide variety of coffees sourced from all over the world, and from roasters not just in Maine but from around the country.
“We want to join all the best parts of coffee culture into one thing, kind of like a chimera,” he said. “It’s an amalgamation of our different experiences with coffee.”
Starting in the spring, Chimera will undergo a renovation before a grand re-opening in late spring or early summer, alongside the reopening of the hotel.
Over the next few months, Johnson and Parker plan to roll out elements such as new branding, Chimera’s own line of locally roasted coffee, some new food items and later hours on the weekends.
Johnson, a native of Prospect Harbor, has been in the coffee industry for years, including stints as manager of West Market. He currently is roasting manager at Coffee Hound Coffee Company in Brewer, where he’s become familiar with the intricate process of roasting different types of beans.
Parker, who moved to Bangor with his wife from his home state of Texas last year, managed an independent coffee shop and beer bar in Dallas called Civil Pour. The couple had wanted to relocate to Maine for some time, and soon after arriving in Bangor Parker took on the West Market manager position vacated by Johnson.
Michaud toyed with the idea of selling the shop for a few years, and together, Parker and Johnson hatched a plan over the fall to take on the business.
“I’ve always had a dream of owning my own coffee place, but the time was never right until now,” Johnson said. “We both really, really love good coffee, and we’re excited to expand on what is already here.”