LEWISTON — The renovation held a few surprises and some moments of doubt.
"In February when I found out about what I had to do with the roof I was waking up in a cold sweat, 'What had I gotten myself into?'" said John Grenier, who announced last winter that he would make the unusual move of taking Rainbow Bicycle from outer Center Street in Auburn to downtown Lewiston, renovating the old and tired former Drapeau's Costume shop.
"We had a budget we went way over on," Grenier said. "The roof had been patched and patched and patched, a bunch of repairs cobbled together over the last 100 years."
He replaced the roof, added supports and saved the building's tin ceiling, original to the Reid & Hughes department store. Over the summer he made more progress at 97 Lisbon St.
The bike shop opened two weeks ago, a little later than originally planned. Its adjoining cafe, the Local Grind, opened Tuesday.
Now, it's just down to business.
"I'm feeling really relieved and really good about what's ahead for us," Grenier said.
He was drawn to the space by the large glass windows and 14-foot ceilings that have been left wide open with exposed duct work.
"We wanted the gritty, industrial feel of Lewiston to still come through," Grenier said.
The new store is larger, with a separate space for the service department and a 5,600-square-foot basement for storage, which beats, he said, the former trailer in the parking lot Rainbow used to use. Grenier hopes to eventually renovate some of that floor for tenants.
He's confident his loyal customer base will follow, and they'll eventually discover their top concern — "What are you going to do about parking?" — isn't such an issue, Grenier said.
"We're getting a lot of new faces; people we've never seen before," he said. "At the old place we never had any foot traffic. We were a destination."
The layout mirrors the old store with one notable exception: the Local Grind, Grenier's new cafe that takes up one-quarter of the floor. He's painted the walls a soft yellow, hung funky lamps and added tables, a leather couch and Wi-Fi. All are welcome, people who pedal and not.
"We didn't want people to think, 'I'm not a cyclist, I'm not going there. Those people are going to be sitting around in Lycra sipping espresso,'" Grenier said. Not so. "We want this place to be a real comfortable place to hang out for everybody. We want to be an important part of this downtown."
The cafe offers sweets from the Bread Shack, and scones, cookies and bagels made in-house. Plans call for expanding the menu to include sandwiches.
Drink offerings include lattes, chai lattes, hot chocolate and coffee, priced $1.75 to $3.50. Grenier hopes "pour over" coffee becomes the Local Grind's specialty, a four-minute-per-cup process that involves meticulous warming and measuring and careful, slow brewing. It's a big-city trend, he said. He knows of one Portland cafe that serves pour over.
The result is a more even taste, cafe manager Scott White said.
"This is what we want to be known for. We wanted to offer something that nobody else is offering," Grenier said. "We offer bikes that nobody else in town is selling; we offer service that nobody else can do. We wanted to carry that over into the coffee side."
A grand opening for both businesses is planned for Dec. 19.
Cafe hours are 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Bike shop hours are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday.