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    Other establishments react to closure of Gateway Coffeehouse


    Coffeehouses are finding that they need to be more than just coffee anymore to keep their doors open. Gateway Chapel’s Gateway Coffeehouse will close its doors on Jan. 31, due to high operating costs and low income.

    According to Bob Desagun, manager, the coffeehouse’s operation simply wasn’t cost-effective.

    “This is a Christian oasis in Mira Mesa…it is not a business thing. I would take my wife, my kids and my youth group here,” he explained. “People were blessed by the free concerts.”

    Desagun took over as manager last March and expressed disappointment in the closing – but also rejoiced, saying, “We are to rejoice in all things…The Lord is sovereign and is moving people elsewhere.”

    But he isn’t the only one who is disappointed in the coffeehouse’s pending closure.

    “I am sad to see it close,” said Tom Rider, part-owner of Chronicles Christian Marketplace in Solana Beach. “Personally, I thought it was a great place…they did a phenomenal job with their concerts.”

    Featuring two groups every week on Friday and Saturday nights, Gateway first opened its doors over two years ago and has seen thousands of people come through its doors, some not leaving the same person.

    Desagun has heard of many people bringing non-Christians to the coffeehouse and shared the story of their Coke delivery-man.

    “The pastor’s wife and the pastor got to share with him, and he ended up giving his life to the Lord.”

    With a limited number of Christian coffeehouses in San Diego, and an even smaller number offering live music, the disappearance of Gateway will certainly have an effect on the local scene.

    Julie Wood, manager of Berean Christian Store, offers the Higher Ground coffeehouse, the only other coffeehouse in the vicinity of Gateway.

    “We expect that their closing may send some folks our way,” predicted Wood.

    With coffeehouses no longer a “new and upcoming” trend, many do not see strictly “coffeehouses” being able to survive anymore.

    Rider says that it is a tough business to be in.

    “It is difficult for Christian businesses to cater to non-Christians,” he explained. “We have to get more sophisticated and really have to offer a wide variety of entertainment and products to cover costs.”

    Calvary Chapel of Oceanside runs their Calvary Hangout in part of the church facility, which, said Mike Reed, Hangout’s overseer, allows them to operate.

    “We are much more low-key [than Gateway], and don’t make any money,” he said. “We get everything through donations.”

    Higher Ground, however, operates in a more similar fashion to Chronicles. Wood described her store’s function as, “Providing an alternative for Christians…and a place for meetings and to hang out the rest of the time…We are not about coffee – we are a Christian store first.”

    However, most agree that watching people interact, fellowship and lift one-another up makes the coffeehouse a worthwhile endeavor.

    “I love going in and watching the fellowship and ministry happening,” shared Reed. “There is praying, studying…I see husbands and wives enjoying time together. I love just seeing people loving others.”

    Pat Apple, who oversees Calvary Chapel of Oceanside’s children’s ministry, has worked in their coffeehouse and believes that it also serves other purposes.

    “I’ve noticed a lot of different people coming in from different churches,” she said. “It brings people together as Christians and breaks down walls.”

    When the last person leaves Gateway Coffeehouse on Jan. 31, there will be one less coffeehouse to entertain the 3 million residents of San Diego County, so the others could get pretty crowded. As Wood believes, “Everyone is looking for a haven,” and coffeehouses still serve that role.

    + + +

    Editor’s Note: If you are considering a visit to a Christian coffeehouse, most of the establishments list their live entertainment in the Calendar section of the newspaper.

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