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.