Owner Jill Killen hopes to have El Diablo Coffee Co. up and running in its new home sometime around June 1.

Though, the home itself isn’t exactly new.

The two-story Victorian at 1825 Queen Anne Ave. N. was built nearly a century ago. 

“It’s a great old building with great old bones,” Killen said

Just two doors down from the cafe’s previous location, the space has been occupied by a succession of short-lived Queen Anne restaurants since it was converted from law offices in the mid-2000s. First it was Julia’s, then emmer&rye, and most recently Nana’s Mexican Kitchen & Cantina, which shuttered last September.

Now, Cuban-inspired coffee and fare is slated for the menu, but there’s plenty of work left to be done to get the space ready for its next act, with volunteers spending Saturday lending a hand during a work party.

It’s been a whirlwind over the past month-plus, since the shop received a notice to vacate from its previous landlord. When it became clear there was no path to remaining in its old space 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N., the search was on for another location. Killen had no plans of taking El Diablo out of the neighborhood, while city permitting delays and the amount of work required made converting a retail space a non-starter. That meant trying to find a location that had previously housed a restaurant.

Under those constraints, there were three potential landing spots, all on Queen Anne Avenue. But the ex-Chocolopolis storefront had just been leased, and the former LloydMartin location — about the same size as the old cafe — lacked patio space.

That left Nana’s, which is three times as big (though not all of that footprint is permitted for restaurant use).

“The potential was so high that we just couldn’t look past it,” she said. “This became the No. 1 choice right away.”

The new location isn’t without it challenges. The ADA entrance is located in the back of the building — though Killen noted, “we’re going to try and make it the nicest ADA entrance we can,” — and determining the actual layout of the first-floor to serve customers isn’t easy.

"We’re trying to plan through everybody’s visit,” she said. “Whether they’re a person in a hurry, or a person who needs to sit for a while. What does their pathway look like in and out of the store? Is it logical? And then, does it involve the least amount of circling and running into people as possible? It’s really hard in a house.”

As Killen closed the deal on the cafe’s new home, there was no shortage of customers coming through the old space in its final days.

“Everybody was so excited and happy and nice and caring and kind and they wanted to come visit us before we left,” she said. “The last week of business was really good, so we were not going to close up shop until we had to.”

A crowdfunding campaign launched shortly after the shop received its notice to vacate has raised more than $20,000 toward a $75,000 goal, though Killen acknowledged the total cost of the move will likely go well beyond that mark. That’s not only a matter of building out the needed infrastructure, but keeping her employees on-staff and paid during the transition.

“I just can’t turn my back on them,” she said. 

In the meantime, the “El Diablo Coffee Box” stands outside the building for regulars to continue getting their coffee fix, and Killen hopes it can remain on-site until the full cafe opens. The initial plan is to be, “doing the same thing we were already doing in our old space,” Killen said, with an operational kitchen serving the same menu and coffee drinks as before. The next phase of work includes plans to convert the second floor into offices or co-working space, and expand the menu.

“It’s just very fun to have a space that actually can do what you need it to do,” Killen said. “We were very, very, very, very limited in the last space.”

She said the community has been, “beautiful and amazing and kind and passionate,” and she’s grateful customers are willing to make the move with them.

“I’m honored that people are just open to Diablo existing in another form,” she said. “There’s a lot of muscle memory built into a space.”

That said, people may notice some touches, like old hardwood floors and the same front table from the old location.

“It has that same residential kind of feel, converted to business,” she said, “which I think will still feel Diablo-esque to people.”

For more information on El Diablo Coffee Co., visit www.eldiablocoffee.com. To contribute to its crowdfunding campaign, go to www.gofundme.com/el-diablo-coffee-co.