Life at 418 Broadway Street comes in layers.
The first, a stunningly-restored outer facade of moody blues and 19th-century glazed windows punctuated by planter boxes and modern lighting. Upon entrance, the next layer is revealed: a spacious coffee shop with wood tables, cozy reading nooks, and polished concrete floors. Smiling baristas serve up brews made from the home roastery, alongside delicious eats and sweets and necessary avocado toasts. A double door near the back opens to reveal a third layer: a three-level coworking space, home to 24 offices and workspaces, and nearly 60 businesses of varying sizes.
Stoble Coffee reveals its final—and most unexpected—layer in its roots: it was designed to help bring the Chico community together.
Matt and Lauren Thiede, now half owners in the venture, first moved to Chico over a decade ago for Civil Engineering and Child Development degrees at Chico State. Living and working in the city, they eventually bought their first home and looked for ways to become more integrated into the community. They invited others to join them in their adopted city: Matt’s sister Melissa, their couple friends Matt and Natalie Johnson, and Alex who knew how to roast.
They envisioned a future of working together, raising their children alongside each other, and growing in fellowship and friendship with those around them. So why not start a business together?
More affordable than most cities in California, with a small-town feel and a growing population, they settled on Chico as the place to stay and grow. Most importantly, said Melissa, “we already had connections here; we’re already part of this community.”
The idea for the business grew quickly after that. Combining their love for coffee and collaboration, they envisioned a community hub to bring Chicoans together.
“There are so many flavors of life in Chico,” Melissa observed. “We thought if we could build a big enough space with lots of workspaces, people would see there is more common ground. We hope to see people with needs and people with money sitting next to each other in a common space, sharing the same physical building and hopefully learning from each other.”
In full operation since June 2021, Stoble is already well on its way toward its goals. It’s the first large-scale co-working space of its kind in Chico (shout-out to OnFlume!), with 17 offices and 7 hourly spaces. Over 55 businesses call Stoble “HQ,” and many more use the space for school or just a place to work quietly for a few hours. Office and day rent includes the cost of utilities, printing, office supplies, unlimited coffee, mail forwarding, and other overhead costs.
By the numbers:
Plants: 103 (Workspace: 65, Cafe: 38)
- Number of businesses: 35 in offices, 20 additional with memberships, 15 additional who use us for mail/occasional meetings
- Offices: 17
- Workspaces: seating for 80 in shared areas + additional 40 in conference rooms
- Number of bricks: Way too many!
- Blends of coffee: 2 Single Origins (with more on the way), 3 Double Origins (blends)
- Combined years in Chico: 32
- Staff (now and then): 3 owners / 3 staff at first, now 45 total!
- Stories (levels): 4 stops on the elevator!
- Plants: 103 (Workspace: 65, Cafe: 38)
“Having low barriers to small businesses is what accelerates prosperity and income of a city,” said Melissa.
”There are lots of ways to do business without a storefront, and people who are new to Chico or new to doing businesses need something between a kitchen table and a full-on office. We know things like overhead can be crippling for small businesses, so we hope the workplace services Stoble offers can be an umbrella to help eliminate some of those initial barriers.”
At over 15,000 square feet of coffeehouse, roastery, and workspace, Stoble’s open-plan format lends itself to myriad business types and potential events. Previously home to Mary’s Gone Crackers, the building sits snugly between Bank of America and the Silberstein Park Building, directly facing the City Plaza. Originally a fairly nondescript one-story building, the Stoble crew gutted and transformed the space into what is now a three-story building with a rooftop for Chico brews, views, and creative crews. “We picked it because it’s near the plaza, and we basically have a front yard,” said Melissa. “We knew if we were going to buy this building we would do something wild and enormous. We wanted to make it a cornerstone of the community.”
And it worked.
Since opening day, over 100 businesses have rented classrooms and conference rooms. Between the cafe and working space, there’s a capacity for 600 people to sip, surf, and create. Humans from all walks of life are welcome: “we just wanted to bring as many flavors of people as possible in here.”
Stoble has exploded from a staff of 6 to a staff of 45, over 12 of them with full health benefits. Key to their business model is one in which the staff feels safe, cared for, and respected. The Thiedes, Johnsons, and management are deeply ingrained in the day-to-day experience and invested in the success of the business from a unique angle: “We didn’t build Stoble to make money,” said Melissa. “Our return is to increase relationships with community and see community members connecting.”
Investments fund the venture, a boon they’re well aware is not available for all start-ups but one they hope will pour opportunity and development back into the community. “We wanted to make our business plan something we could ethically and morally stand behind. We recognize everybody can’t do this, and that’s why we want to provide that umbrella for small businesses—and encourage big businesses to provide for their employees in a more robust way.”
Looking to the future, the Stoble crew plans to extend this care and consideration into future expansions. Their goal is to reflect the neighborhoods in which they build and provide space for makers, small businesses, and crafters to dream and grow. “As we think about what the next location might look like, we’re asking ourselves: how do we shape the physical buildings, to reflect the character and personality of the neighborhood?”
Popups, makers’ classes, teachable events: all will someday be welcome in Stoble spaces as the business continues to look for ways to grow, thrive, and provide for its community. “Helping plug people in where we can and provide them new and engaging ways to run their businesses – that’s where we want to be.”
At the end of the day, the Stoble owners and employees always come back to the community. “Nowhere is as hyper-connected as Chico,” said Melissa. “You wouldn’t have to be here very long to become connected yourself, and we never want anybody to feel like they’re on the outside.”
“It’s like valence electrons,” she added. Once you find your group, you’ll always be connected.”
Building Preservation Fun Facts: The build-out and design of the new Stoble building incorporated the style of the facade from the 1800s and recreated the dental work and top trimmings, and they exposed the brick to make it more prominent