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December 22nd, 2022

5 years and some change ago, launching a coffee shop was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Yes, it was physically demanding, and it was certainly mentally challenging, what I wasn’t prepared for was the emotional toll it would take on me.


I opened Kiosko on July 1st, 2017.

7 Days a week, from 7am to 4pm. However, between opening and closing, it meant that I had to be there 45 minutes before and 45 minutes after.

It wasn’t until November, 14th, 2017, that I took my first day off. Almost 40 days after hiring my very first employee and 4 months and 14 days after I opened its doors. That day, I walked out of my apartment, which was located across the street from the tiny cafe. I considered coming in for coffee but knew that if I stopped in I was just going to sit around and find things to fix, and so I kept moving.

I spent the day walking around the city as if it was my first day in it. I love this city. Its River, its bridges, its downtown streets, the beautiful buildings by AE Doyle. The sound of the MAX train as you hear it coming from a distance. The color of the trees along the parks near City Hall.

Truth is I love Downtown more than I love any other part of Portland, which is why I’ve spent 11 of the 12

years I’ve been here living in it. There’s a reason why I mention all of this, it will make sense at the end, I promise.


Up until then I had never worked so hard on anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked hard, plenty, but not like this. Not without a proper day-off nor the validation of a paycheck deposited into my bank account every other week.


Prior to opening that little shop, I used to invite friends over and drink beers on the patio, or sip wine in the living room on a Friday night as I put on whatever incredible vinyl was in my collection. Gone were the days of weekend brunch with the fresh juice and pastries. In this new life I was always tired. Often stressed about the business, and physically beaten to shit by 5pm.


I was emotionally disconnected from just about everything and everyone, almost as if every morning that I woke up, I gave everyone that walked in that shop 110% of my energy and came home with nothing left in my brain. I didn’t even bother opening the good beers, sipping any of the good wines, or even taking the time to make myself a decent cocktail. Oftentimes, I wouldn’t even sit to eat a proper dinner, after all, if there was ever any pastries left over by 4pm I would be the one scarfing them down as I was closing up for the day. Did I mention I was barely breaking even?


I was a fucking mess.


Fast-forward to 2022 and the opening of Esperanza and everything that has followed. These last few months, I’ve watched people travel to warm places during spring. I saw my friends basking in the sun of the Portland summer. I’ve seen some take trips to beautiful destinations during Fall, and even now, I continue to overhear the exit strategies for winter by some of my Guests.


I’ve watched people having the time of their life at backyard parties. I’ve seen many friends drinking up beautiful cocktails on a random work day and enjoying amazing dinners all over town.

I’ve put off joining in on that fun mostly because even if I managed to get away for the day/night I would probably just be an insufferable bastard looking over emails and running ideas in my head of what we need to change by the end of the week.

Let me tell you, nothing says I am committed to this business like waking up at 7am, ending the day at 1am, only to start again at 7.

It’s a fucking grind and I am just grateful that I am not doing it all on my own.

And yet, despite all of this, none of it truly compares to the mental beat down from that little coffee shop! Maybe it’s because at that time I wasn’t conditioned for business ownership. Or maybe because despite the fact that I knew where it was all going I didn’t know how long it was going take to get there.


This year has been madness. That’s the best way that I can explain it. You all have seen it. You are all witnesses. You make assumptions (hopefully good assumptions).

And even after all madness there is still so much more that many of you have not seen.

At around this time last year, my dear friend and partner Braulio Diaz and I shot what was to be a Pilot (first episode)for a series highlighting some of our favorite places and people in Portland. It was good, but it didn’t quite have much direction, it was just us taking some of the lessons we learned from shooting our content and deciding that this is where we needed to go. We watched it, edited, changed it, re-wrote it and went back to the drawing board.


Knowing that Brau had to be back in Mexico for 3 months I made the plan to invest on more/better equipment and meet him in Oaxaca to shoot another pilot. This time a series about places in Mexico. Once again, another multitude of learning lessons, so many that we said “you know what would be a great idea, if we took this time and money we have already blown, and apply all of these lessons to another episode somewhere else.” . We didn't actually say that, but we did just that.

So after Oaxaca we made our way over to the state of Hidalgo, and just like that we were producing 2 episodes with NOT one buyer lined up.

A month later in April, we met back in Portland. This time we gathered our team, tightened our concept, and amassed a number of incredible people from this city. And then we began shooting a number of chapters for a series called RCTID.

The acronym RCTID stands for Rose City ‘Til I Die. If you grew up here or you’ve ever rooted for the home team, you are familiar with that saying.

This was the original concept we had started with, only this time we polished it up, added a lot more structure and figured out the narrative of the series from the very start.


For us, it meant that we would get to sit with some of our favorite people in this city and learn more about their time here, their connection to this place, and the brilliance behind their work. This was something that we were going to hold off on talking about publicly until the time was right or until the right offer came. Well, I feel that now more than ever that time is right.


Today, my dear friend Brau and I are proud to share with you the first full length episode (Pilot) of this series, which will live on Youtube for the time being. Our plan here is to give you a different interview once a week for the next 18 weeks. Doing this will allow us the time to focus on finishing up our Mexico series, hopefully raising a little more capital to shoot another 2 episodes within the next few weeks.

Please watch it, please share it, whatever you do, please subscribe to the channel. This is our gift to you for the Holidays, and my gift to this beautiful city that has given me so much! Sidenote, the quality is still processing so if you watch it tonight it might be a little rough in comparison to what it will look like tomorrow when it's done processing.

Last, and before I forget, huge shoutout to all of the people who made this possible. Thank you!

Am I tired? Certainly.

Do I see where it is all going and how long it is going to take? Absolutely.


But like that one Australian guy once said after taking on like 5 deadly warriors inside of the Roman Colosseum?


“Are you not entertained!?”






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t.hemphill
t.hemphill
Dec 23, 2022

Entertained? Indeed. And inspired! You’re a wonderful writer and your heartfelt posts are a pleasure to read. As a Portland newbie, moving here just before Covid in 2020, the opening of República was one bright spot in a gray, uneasy time. Amazing to see what’s been done since by you and your remarkable team. The RCTID pilot resonated in multiple ways and can’t wait to see the rest of the series.

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