Inspiring Spaces: Queen Bean Coffee House
BY DANA KOSTER
The Queen Bean might call itself a Coffee House, but for the throngs of families, telecommuters, students, police officers and artists who patronize it every day, the Queen Bean is more like a coffee home. It’s difficult to pin down just what creates this cozy feeling – it might be that the building was once a residential Victorian with all the columns, moldings and carved wooden details one would expect from the era. It might be that the baristas make it a point to learn the names and favored drinks of their regulars and to exchange banter over the whirr of the espresso machine. Whatever it is, it’s clear that the establishment’s motto holds true for people of all ages and backgrounds in the Modesto area: the Queen Bean Coffee House is truly “where you belong.”
As you walk up to the curving brick path to the stately front porch, the first thing that strikes you is the eclectic décor. A mermaid fountain burbles away on the front lawn of the 100-year-old Victorian building, which sports a slightly incongruous Spanish-style roof that owner Debbie Martinez says was installed by a previous tenant. Follow the brick path towards the back of the Coffee House and you’ll find a sprawling wooden deck with more bird houses, delightfully kitschy signs and carved masks than you can count. Event Coordinator Kevin Williams says this gigantic, piano-bedecked outdoor seating area has served as a stage, a venue for a baby shower and even a runway.
Walk up the front steps towards the glass-inlaid front door and you’ll pass climbing flowers, chalkboard-painted signs and planters full of succulents. Inside, an oversized chair flanks a mosaic fireplace in what was once the building’s original living room. Sitting on the Victorianesque sofa, sipping coffee, gazing at the people laughing, working or enjoying a handmade sandwich in this colorfully-striped room, it’s easy to forget you’re in a place of business. It’s no wonder people feel at home.
INSPIRATION Q-AND-A WITH KEVIN WILLIAMS OF QUEEN BEAN COFFEE HOUSE
DK: Where do you find inspiration?
KW: Debbie and I feed off each other. She is so humble and she’s very creative, too. She really just lets
me do whatever I want, but when I’m designing, I do think: what would Debbie do? I always have that
in the back of my mind.
DK: What do you guys really love about your place of business?
KW: Oh, the people, for sure. It’s definitely our customers. It’s so great to have all these relationships
with people. I just saw a baby here that was 3 weeks old and I was like: oh, a new customer!
DK: What was your biggest challenge?
KW: Bringing an industrial freezer inside of a Victorian house! Just getting everything here to code for
a restaurant establishment. Keeping the integrity of the place but also retrofitting it.
DK: What do you think are the benefits of good design?
KW: Well, function and beauty, because a lot of beautiful things don’t function and a lot of functional
things aren’t beautiful. So if you can have beauty and functionality, you’ve done it.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, facebook.com/queenbeancoffeehouse