Michael Phinney wanted to find the right person to take over Full City Coffee in downtown Eugene. After all, he had spent 30 years making the Pearl Street business an institution in the city’s highly competitive coffee shop scene.
“I didn’t want to sell it to just anybody,” Phinney said. “I have an emotional connection to all those people who supported me over the years.”
Phinney did not have to look far to find his buyer. In June, he sold Full City Coffee and the adjoining Palace Bakery to longtime employee Lisa Truelove.
Truelove, who had worked with Phinney for 19 years, says acquiring the business is “fulfilling a dream.”
“I have so much gratitude towards Michael and all of those who have helped me along the way,” she said.
The coffee shop and bakery at 842 Pearl St. are being renamed Palace Coffee and Bakery. It continues to sell coffee from Full City Coffee Roasters, a wholesale coffee company in west Eugene that Phinney continues to own and operate.
Truelove and Phinney had reached agreement on the sale before the COVID-19 outbreak earlier in the year.
With indoor seating eliminated and many downtown employees working from home, sales at Full City dropped 85 percent in March and April, Truelove said.
“There were some lonely days, and I thought, ‘What have I done?’” she said.
But the coffee shop stayed afloat through takeout sales. “With coffee, we have been able to adapt a little bit easier (than other retail businesses) because it’s really easy to do takeout and grab-and-go,” she said. “We don’t have to have a ton of people in here to keep sales going.”
Truelove began working at Full City Coffee Roasters in 2001.
She did every job in the wholesale side of the company, such as delivering and roasting coffee, and repairing equipment. She also regularly filled in on the retail side. And Truelove traveled with Phinney on coffee-buying trips to Guatemala and Peru.
“I love coffee,” she said. “Coffee is part of the community of Eugene. Whether you drink coffee or not - you may be in here with somebody who is having a cup of tea - it’s just an integral part of our day. It has a good energy. It’s just fun.”
Truelove, who has eight employees, plans to remodel the shop to better integrate the bakery and coffee sides of the business. The pandemic continues to present a challenge to business, but Truelove said the shop is staring to attract new customers.
“Michael built a phenomenal business,” she said. “I intend to keep this place around for a very long time.”
Palace Coffee and Bakery
842 Pearl St.
6:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Mon-Fri.
7 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.
7 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun.