By Leah Weissman
Pilot staff writer
Walking into the Salty Dog Coffee Bar at the Port of Brookings Harbor is like walking into a coffee-lovers paradise.
The windows are draped with khaki-colored coffee bags, the smell of roast grounds lingers in the air, and the friendly chatter of customers as they talk and slurp from steaming mugs is a cozy sight.
"Whenever anyone comes here, whether they drink an espresso or fruit smoothie, I want them to say, That's good that's the best,'" co-owner Carla Gottlieb said.
Carla and Craig Gottlieb opened Salty Dog Coffee Bar April 1, after moving to Brookings from Sonora, Calif.
"Whenever we had a three-day weekend or some time off, we'd always travel up the Oregon coast," Carla said. "We loved Brookings and we loved the port. So when we finally decided to move, we chose to move here."
The couple decided to change the name of the coffee shop there before from Espresso Gallery to Salty Dog because "it represents the fishermen, surfers and all those who live on the ocean," Carla said.
That maritime atmosphere is well represented as surfboards, pictures of ship-wrecked vessels and the coffee bar's logo of a surfing black dog adorn the walls of the shop. A big couch at the back adds a touch of extra comfort, and free Wi-fi is available for customers.
"We've tried to make the place more homey and fun," Carla said.
The Gottlieb's have never owned a coffee shop before, but it's hard to tell as Carla expertly makes a crme brulee latte for a customer.
Their menu is staggering, with everything from the basic espresso to extravagant lattes, teas and fruit smoothies. Even the counter is loaded with bagels and baked goods from Cafe Kitanishi.
"Craig used to own a pawn shop in California and dealt with precious metals which was lucrative, but stressful," Carla said. "We wanted to do something fun and, here, we get to meet new people every day and have an awesome group of regular customers."
As the line of locals pours through the door, Carla cracks jokes with everyone and is always busy either making coffee, blending smoothies or greeting residents and tourists with a smile.
"We want to make this a fun, neighborhood place for people to come and meet friends," Carla said. "I heard the Espresso Gallery used to be a happening place, but business started to wane a bit. We want to build that vibe back up."
In an effort to do so, starting Memorial Day Weekend, the Salty Dog Coffee Bar will host live music from local talent every Friday and Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
According to Carla, the vibe also means becoming a part of the community.
"We can't get out much because we are working all the time, so instead we are doing two community-minded specials every week," Carla said.
Every Wednesday, the Salty Dog Coffee Bar will donate $1 to the South Coast Humane Society for every special wag-your-tail latte sold. And Fridays are now dubbed Food Share Fridays, where customers get 50 cents off drinks for bringing in a canned food item to be donated to the Brookings-Harbor Community Helpers Inc. Food Share.
Like the previous Espresso Gallery, Carla said the Salty Dog Coffee Bar will also feature local artists' works.
"As Craig says, this is really our customers' coffee shop we are just the care-takers for it," Carla said.
The Salty Dog Coffee Bar is located next to the boardwalk at the Port of Brooking Harbor. It's open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with later times Friday and Saturday starting Memorial Day Weekend. For information, call (541) 469-3161.