Music to your taste buds

A local entrepreneur has traded in clip pedals and chain grease for coffee beans and tea leaves.

Noah Cleveland, a first-time restaurateur and former custom bike maker, last week opened the Federal Coffee and Tea at 616 E. Franklin St.

It’s an idea Cleveland has been tossing around for about eight years now, and he has big plans for his 1,444-square-foot shop.

“This space needed stuff to be a little bigger, a little more epic,” Cleveland said.

Since moving in about seven months ago, Cleveland has put in between $50,000 and $60,000 to get the shop up and running. The upgrades, which Cleveland financed out of pocket, included a new custom light fixture and an oversized sofa and coffee table, in keeping with the make-everything-a-little-bigger theme.

The coffee shop takes its name from Franklin Federal Savings and Loan, the bank that occupied the building in the 1940s and ’50s and whose initials are etched in the sidewalk at the shop’s entrance. Cleveland also liked the double entendre of feeding customers at “the Fed.”

The menu features breakfast sandwiches and bagels for the morning with salads and sandwiches at lunchtime.

Cleveland, a DJ and techno music fan, has named his menu items after musicians, including a hard-boiled-egg-and-bacon sandwich dubbed the Norman Cook, the given name of famed DJ and producer Fatboy Slim.

Cleveland started thinking seriously about the coffee shop about two years ago, after he was involved in a car accident. His ensuing insurance settlement was “substantial, but not enough” to get Cleveland back on his feet, he said.

It was then that Cleveland decided he would need a new job, because custom bikes weren’t selling.

“There’s not much money in the custom mail-order bike business,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland liked the Franklin Street location because of its size and windows, which he said light the room while keeping out some of the more unsightly features of the city.

“Generally you’d look out the window and see a nasty alley or a parking lot,” he said.

Cleveland hopes to open a second coffee shop within the next five years. He has not settled on where he’d like that to be, but he mentioned Denver, Raleigh, N.C., and a second Richmond spot as possible locations.

For now, there’s still work to be done at the Fed, where, in addition to beverages and sandwiches, customers can expect a mix of down tempo R&B, jazz and techno music. That is, as soon as Cleveland can settle on a few tunes.

“I haven’t made the playlists for my iPod yet,” Cleveland said.

A local entrepreneur has traded in clip pedals and chain grease for coffee beans and tea leaves.

Noah Cleveland, a first-time restaurateur and former custom bike maker, last week opened the Federal Coffee and Tea at 616 E. Franklin St.

It’s an idea Cleveland has been tossing around for about eight years now, and he has big plans for his 1,444-square-foot shop.

“This space needed stuff to be a little bigger, a little more epic,” Cleveland said.

Since moving in about seven months ago, Cleveland has put in between $50,000 and $60,000 to get the shop up and running. The upgrades, which Cleveland financed out of pocket, included a new custom light fixture and an oversized sofa and coffee table, in keeping with the make-everything-a-little-bigger theme.

The coffee shop takes its name from Franklin Federal Savings and Loan, the bank that occupied the building in the 1940s and ’50s and whose initials are etched in the sidewalk at the shop’s entrance. Cleveland also liked the double entendre of feeding customers at “the Fed.”

The menu features breakfast sandwiches and bagels for the morning with salads and sandwiches at lunchtime.

Cleveland, a DJ and techno music fan, has named his menu items after musicians, including a hard-boiled-egg-and-bacon sandwich dubbed the Norman Cook, the given name of famed DJ and producer Fatboy Slim.

Cleveland started thinking seriously about the coffee shop about two years ago, after he was involved in a car accident. His ensuing insurance settlement was “substantial, but not enough” to get Cleveland back on his feet, he said.

It was then that Cleveland decided he would need a new job, because custom bikes weren’t selling.

“There’s not much money in the custom mail-order bike business,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland liked the Franklin Street location because of its size and windows, which he said light the room while keeping out some of the more unsightly features of the city.

“Generally you’d look out the window and see a nasty alley or a parking lot,” he said.

Cleveland hopes to open a second coffee shop within the next five years. He has not settled on where he’d like that to be, but he mentioned Denver, Raleigh, N.C., and a second Richmond spot as possible locations.

For now, there’s still work to be done at the Fed, where, in addition to beverages and sandwiches, customers can expect a mix of down tempo R&B, jazz and techno music. That is, as soon as Cleveland can settle on a few tunes.

“I haven’t made the playlists for my iPod yet,” Cleveland said.

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Jay
Jay
10 years ago

I’ve always like that little Art Deco gem.

Tom Dorsey
Tom Dorsey
10 years ago

This is what America use to be all about. People taking a chance to strike out on their own, take the risk to own a business and do it their way. If one didn’t work, they didn’t give up, they pushed on with a new idea. Bravo Cleveland, all the best. I’ll be stopping by.

Ellis
Ellis
10 years ago

I was so excited to see them open in an area of town that sorely needs a coffee spot. But I have mixed feelings now, because they are off to a rocky start. The chai is watery tasting at best, the credit card machine hasn’t worked since they opened and there is no wifi yet. I really hope they succeed, but they have alot of work to do.

Brett
Brett
10 years ago

Interior looks like my Grandma’s house.

Jessica (Jess) Robbins
Jessica (Jess) Robbins
10 years ago

Noah—I hope you take this to the top…you have all of mine and Tim’s blessings…keep your chin up and take care….maybe we will see you soon…Folks please give Noah’s new place a try and a chance…PROUD of you Noah…

Ellen Larsen
Ellen Larsen
10 years ago

Ellis: They accept credit cards now and wifi has been up for at least a week. Try the coffee.

Ellen Larsen
Ellen Larsen
10 years ago

Great coffee, great food, delicious pastries. Love the high ceilings and the bright blue fixed gear bike on top of the bookcase. Eclectic

Sunshine Moore
Sunshine Moore
10 years ago

I am ecstatic to find out The Fed has opened finally!

Brent Talbott
Brent Talbott
10 years ago

Wish they were opened more after business hours. This is a cool enough place that word of mouth will bring people who are unable to try it during regular work hours when they are opened – in the evenings and on weekends. The bundt cakes with the special glazes and garnishes are unlike anything available in the city and them alone are worth giving this place a try. It’s more than that, though. The sandwiches and salads are unique and memorable. The interior just needs to be experienced. Staff still seems a little green, but are nice. All of their… Read more »

elise
elise
10 years ago

I also have invested money in this shop and I designed the logo. Hope it works out!

Ruben Foster
Ruben Foster
9 years ago

And closed. That didn’t take long.