Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

October 31, 2023

Coffee By Design closes original shop on Portland's Congress Street after nearly 30 years

Photo / Alexis Wells Coffee by Design has officially closed its Congress Street location, but on Tuesday customers were still flocking to its doors wondering why the business was dark inside.

Just two weeks after Coffee By Design announced that it was temporarily closing its Congress Street location because of a staffing shortage, the company says the coffeehouse won’t reopen. 

“It is with deep sadness that I share that we will be permanently closing the Coffee By Design Congress Street coffeehouse. This is a difficult announcement to make," wrote owner and co-founder Mary Allen Lindemann in a social media post. "I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for the support this community has always given this special place in Portland."

On Tuesday morning a few CBD fans stood outside the shop wondering why it was dark inside. A regular customer said she was disappointed that her neighborhood coffee shop was shuttered. 

Photo / Alexis Wells
The Coffee by Design location still had its temporary closing sign on display Tuesday.

The 620 Congress St. shop was the company’s original location, opening July 1, 1994. Earlier this month, Coffee By Design said it was only temporarily closing the shop and needed time to hire and train additional staff so it could operate with a complete team.

The Portland company is headquartered at 1 Diamond St., where it has a coffeeshop and roasting facility. It also has a coffeehouse at 67 India St.

The business is owned and led by Lindemann, who launched the business with Alan Spear. In 2005, both were recognized as Mainebiz Business Leaders of the Year, and Lindemann was named a Mainebiz Women to Watch in 2019. 

The company also had a retail location inside L.L.Bean's flagship store in Freeport, but closed the shop in advance of a major revamp of the campus. Coffee By Design has 650 wholesale customers worldwide.

“The decision to close the Congress Street coffeehouse was not made lightly, and it comes after years of this location barely breaking even due to a combination of factors, including never making a true recovery after COVID, the loss of the Freeport coffeehouse following L.L. Bean’s decision to renovate and not extend the lease, and the changing retail landscape,” said Lindemann in a published statement.

On Oct. 17 baristas at Coffee By Design's three Portland coffeehouses announced plans to unionize. Employees said 89% of the retail workforce had signed cards authorizing Local 327 of the Laborers' International Union of North America to represent them.

The company last week voluntarily recognized the union. In a Facebook post, Coffee By Design said the Congress Street closing is unrelated to the unionizing and that the coffeehouse’s performance had been under review for a long time.

The retail workers have cited industry-low pay and uneven hours, which have led to inconsistent benefits, an ad-hoc disciplinary system and substandard working conditions as reasons for joining the union.

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF