New owners keep Depoe Bay in the family

By: Gloria Young,
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Depoe Bay Coffee
Where: 893 High St., Downtown Auburn
Phone: (530) 889-1021
Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday

During their 13 years at Depoe Bay Coffee Company, the Auburn café has become an extension of home for owners Dion and Carol Isaacson.

“We enjoy the different characters and personalities who come into the store and we’re on a first-name basis with many of them,” Carol Isaacson said.

Now they are retiring and turning over the business to son and daughter-in-law Mike and Nicole LaVigne.

The LaVignes are already well known faces to customers. Nicole is the store manager and Mike handles the coffee bean roasting duties.

“We’re very excited to have the opportunity to serve the community and city of Auburn,” Mike LaVigne said.

The Isaacsons opened the café in 2000. Then in 2006, they doubled the space when they took over the shop next door and removed  the dividing wall. A short time later, the recession hit, bringing tough times. But the past few years have seen business picking up again.

“It’s been more like a creep back, but I can see it’s doing better all the time,” Dion Isaacson said.

They got through the lean years by “learning to think outside the box,” he said. “Just because (something) doesn’t work one or two times, there’s always a way to make it work.”

The Isaacsons agree that their customers are their favorite part of running the business and what they’ll miss most. Among the regulars are Applegate residents Bruce and Jeanne Sayre.

“We go the Racquet Club and after our exercise, we treat ourselves,” Jeanne Sayre said.

The Sayres, who often meet up at Depoe Bay with fellow Racquet Club members, credit the warm ambiance for the café’s popularity.

“It’s the Isaacsons and the LaVignes,” Bruce Sayre said. “They are super people, very friendly. We feel like they are part of our extended family.”

The Sayres have high praise for the mochas, too.

“We’ve been to Europe and Australia, and this place has a magic formula. It’s unbeatable,” Bruce Sayre said.

The menu has grown over the years in response to customers’ suggestions. And the LaVignes are planning to expand it even more.

“We’ve added more breakfast burritos,” Nicole LaVigne said. “We had three (kinds). Now we have two more.”

The Isaacsons brought in wi-fi  early on. The coffee and tea bar at the front of the store gives customers the option of mixing their own blends. A conference room  at the back of the café is booked for meetings and other gatherings almost daily.

A big attention grabber is a British telephone booth the Isaacsons discovered at an estate sale. When Carol saw it, she immediately wanted it for the store. Over the years, it has served a useful as well as decorative purpose.

“If someone is on a cell phone and wants privacy, they can sit (in the phone booth),” she said.

The coffee beans are imported from all over the world. Each container has a little story — created by the Isaacsons — about the background of the contents. For many years Dion Isaacson was a fixture at the coffee bean roaster, which occupies a side area at the entrance. Mike LaVigne is carrying on that tradition. His Mountain Blend is a customer favorite.

The Isaacsons have actively supported the arts, participating in the Art Walk and inviting artists to showcase their work on the walls of the café.

The couple lives in Colfax but when they decided to open the store, knew they wanted to be in Auburn.

“It was the right place to be. It was meant to be,” Carol said.

The LaVignes are looking forward to continuing the friendly and helpful ambiance.

“We’re really anxious to please our customers,” Nicole LaVigne said. “We want them to feel that we care about them and when they come here, that the service and menu items are consistent.”

After retirement, Carol Isaacson plans to continue working in the store a couple of times a week. Dion is going to tackle home projects, including bringing back to life three cars and a motorcycle.

His advice for future entrepreneurs? Do only what you really want to do and only what you enjoy.