PublicUs quickly became a bustling community hub after opening in 2015. Since it’s inception, owner Kimo Akiona has said that the food and coffee have been equally important. But because of the business model and how busy they are, true coffee aficionados don’t get the opportunity to geek out on their their daily cups of caffeine like whiskey lovers might at a cocktail bar. Utilizing the 1,000-square-foot room next door is the perfect way to remedy that.
Akiona is calling the neighboring room PublicUs Annex, which will be open during regular store hours on Fridays and Saturdays. He says the idea is to offer something more intimate, quiet and smaller for people who just want coffee. The menu is simple, minus one or two specialty items offered by the baristas, who will be there to educate those interested in learning about the magic beans and what they can do.
In PublicUs fashion, everything in Annex will be high-end. A new espresso machine, the Slayer made in Washington, will be making perfectly pulled shots of espresso. Akiona says it can do different things that the Spirit in the main room cannot, such as flavor profiling, which allows the barista to highlight flavor characteristics. It can control the cups mouthfeel, body, acidity and sweetness.
Annex’s design is just as luxurious as the Slayer. “It’s not a gallery in the traditional since,” Akiona says, since people are interacting with what’s inside. He calls it an “accidental gallery.” Design fans will instantly recognize the Eames Case Study series tables and molded fiberglass chairs handmade by Modernica out of Los Angeles. Many might have already noticed the 1,600-pound dangling hand in the front window made by local artist Luis Varela-Rico. It was originally built for an exhibition in the Clark County Government center in 2014 but is now a permanent fixture in Annex.
“I think PublicUs bolsters local artists,” Varela-Rico says. “I was just a regular patron and knew [manager] Lane [Olson] from working at [nonprofit] ActionRED and I was invited to do something for this space. It’s locals supporting locals.”
Photos by Krystal Ramirez
The goal of the space isn’t just for coffee lovers to dissect flavor profiles and sit on expensive chairs. Annex is going to be used for community events as well.
Akiona says that PublicUs, meaning “for the people”, was always intended for the community, but “life is always about timing.” Now the timing is right. The space has already hosted the first recurring Group Hug night featuring different community artists, talks and other events every second Saturday. October featured an all-women art exhibition hosted by Vegas-based women publication Raw Femme. In November, advocacy group Gender Justice Nevada will rent Annex for Thanksgiving dinner.
The tentative goal is to open in November. “Hopefully we will bring in some new people,” Akiona says.