published Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

A brew and view for Camp House: Coffee shop to move to larger space in Volunteer Building

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    Customers work on their laptops at Camp House Espresso in Chattanooga. More professionals are forgoing offices to work from coffee shops.
    Photo by Maura Friedman.
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The Camp House is brewing something new.

Late this year, the coffee shop will roll up its urban-funk decor in Chattanooga's Southside and head downtown to storefronts under the Volunteer Building's garage.

Camp House has a five-year lease with Corker Properties X for its new space along M.L. King Boulevard. The coffee shop -- which doubles as meeting hall, wedding venue, lunch spot and concert venue -- has known for a year it needs to relocate and started mulling the downtown option early this year, said its director, Matt Busby. Camp House's lease ends on Dec. 1.

The coffee shop isn't moving for lack of love over the airy Williams Street space it's been in since 2010, Busby said. Instead, the building's landlord, sculptor Cessna Decosimo, wants to turn the coffee shop into a studio, Busby said. Decosimo couldn't be reached for comment.

The new 9,000-square-foot Volunteer space can hold about 500 people, compared with 150 at the current William Street site. The extra room means a bigger coffee bar and kitchen, with food served into the evening. Camp House plans to offer wine and have beer on tap. It also wants to build a patio where a driveway now connects M.L. King Boulevard to the parking deck.

Corker Properties X has been gutting the storefront strip, a former storage area, for months, said Lynda Childress, the company's chief operating officer. It took on the task after "continuously" getting phone calls from businesses wanting to move into the historic Volunteer Building, which is full, she said.

"The structure is beautiful," Childress said. "We thought, 'Why not'?"

While the move should help the Volunteer building site, the coffee shop's relocation is a bummer for some of its current neighbors.

"Lots of staff use it," said Janice McGaffic, office manager for Health Connect America. "It's very convenient."

And it serves tasty food and smooth coffee, McGaffic said.

Still, some neighbors are secretly happy with the departure because it could free up some street parking.

Camp House patrons are known to lug their laptops inside and hunker down for hours, creating a welcoming environment. It's something the coffee shop, which is Mission Chattanooga owns, prides itself on -- so much so, it's planning several events before the move "to honor the way this place shaped us, and shaped the community," Busby said.

Contact staff writer Mitra Malek at or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, with a focus on the Chattanooga area's tech, small business and entrepreneurial communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press, she was a staff writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Palm Beach Post. She has covered local and national politics, government, international trade, a state cancer cluster investigation and real estate growth and economic development, among other subjects. Her reporting ...

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