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Eugene Weekly : Food and Drink : 10.15.2009


Commence the Bumpin’

A Q&A with Brian Hebb and Shawn Mediaclast

by Molly Templeton

Brian Hebb and Shawn Mediaclast

At 62 West Broadway, there’s a fish in the window. It’s a funny little fish, and enough to pique the interest of passers-by, who will have to be patient a bit longer while the space within is transformed into Cowfish Coffee, Lounge and Club. Self-described “trenchant storekeep/low-fi media mogul (owner of Museum of Unfine Art and Record Store) and erstwhile DJ (Audio Schizophrenic)” Shawn Mediaclast and “former radio raconteur (KLCC/KOPT) and presently restaurateur (Red Agave)” Brian Hebb have put their heads together for the latest addition to downtown, a combination coffeehouse, gallery and bar/dance club that will open, they say, before the snow stops flying. Here’s a little bit on what you can expect when Cowfish flings open its doors.

A confession: I nearly typed Dogfish. I think I was thinking of the beer. What is a cowfish, anyway? 

BH: Cowfish are extremely adaptive little seafarers with freakishly sentient faces and a mesmerizing form of jet powered propulsion. 

SM: Be there at our grand opening; the cowfish will be. But more seriously ... cowfish are the closest aquamarine equivalent to spaceships, and that’s what our club is going to be. We plan on taking our patrons to outer space. 

BH: We may also have them swimming around at our membership drive party, open to everyone this coming Sunday, 8 pm, at Red Agave.

How did this come about, and what are your goals, hopes and intentions for it? 

BH: Shawn and I are business neighbors on Willamette and 5th. We’d become friends over the last couple years. Shawn had been pining to give Eugene a better dance venue, and I was looking around for another project. Things snowballed quickly. As to our intentions — to cause general ass-shaking by night and proper neural acuity by day. The common line being music and psychoactive beverages.

SM: (Meaning caffeine and alcohol, of course.) 

BH: Sure, sure.

SM: Eugene needs more spots that provide great ambience and good coffee at a reasonable price. We want our daytime coffee house to be the best place to study off-campus. With my ambient music collection and the cheapest cup of locally roasted coffee in town, plus a great room, it’ll be perfect. We’re going to feature accomplished local artists — give them more gallery space. Downtown needs more nightlife that encourages dancing, fun, respect and creativity. And a great venue for live music. The emphasis late night will be on the dance floor, which will be prime-catered with Eugene’s finest DJs and guests from out of town and abroad. Get ready for the bumpin’ to commence.

How will the dance club/café split work out? 

BH: It will require merely a few smooth but earnest tugs on the drapes every morning and afternoon, along with the flicking and unflicking of a few switches to transform the room from low-in-the-soul underwater swank to light, bright, Wi-Fi armored airport ambience. Also, we’re contractually bound to turn down the music during the day.

SM: It’ll be simple. We’ll be closed for five minutes around 6 to sweep the place for minors. 

What will the focus be, drinks and food-wise? 

BH: Our cocktails will be strong, but balanced. Our food will be well-salted and appropriately hot or cold.

SM: We will have healthy alternatives to alcohol. Freshly squeezed mango juice or a glass of vitamin D-fortified whole milk. I expect we’ll get creative with the cocktails, and you should anticipate some amazing deals.

I seem to remember you mentioning urban renewal funding; how does that come about and play into the project? 

BH: Downtown revitalization loans are conveniently provided just across the back parking lot from Cowfish, in the Atrium Building. We stumbled in there to use the bathroom and came out with a low-interest loan and a great deal of personal assistance with the complicated vagaries of municipal governance. 

SM: Let’s put it this way: My opinions about city government have really changed!

How far along is the space? 

BH: It depends on where you start from. And I’m forgetful. 

SM: We’re halfway there. Scary parts over. Hard part commences.

What’s the design aesthetic going to be like? 

BH: If Ibiza was an airport, this will be what it might look like. 

SM: I agree with that.