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Welder Leroy Malloy works on the window space above Donkey Coffee and Espresso. The local coffeehouse opened its new patio space Sunday, just in time for warmer weather. (Brien Vincent | Staff Photographer)

Outdoor patio, study area one of Donkey's latest shop renovations

After months of renovations, a local coffee shop has debuted an aesthetic addition that brings a little more oomph to the establishment.

On Sunday, Donkey Coffee and Espresso opened its most recent addition, drawing the attention of both newcomers and Donkey regulars.

The coffee shop’s latest facelift is an outdoor patio adjacent to the upstairs seating area of the building.

The construction, which began in August, ended just in time for coffee lovers to test the patio out Sunday.

“What we’re hoping is that, with the announcement of the patio, people see that we’re done with the front construction and people come back to hang out at Donkey again,” said Chris Pyle, Donkey’s owner who said business decreased when the renovations were in full swing.

Erin Brady, a second-year graduate student studying literature, said she is excited to enjoy the most recent addition to the coffee house.

“When it’s nice out, it’s nice to do homework outside when you can feel the sun on you,” Brady said. “Plus, there’ll be more seating. It gets crowded here sometimes.”

The patio comfortably seats 14 people, Pyle said.

Myke Linscott, a barista at Donkey Coffee and Espresso, said that Sunday proved to be a successful debut for the patio.

“It’s been a lot of people up there already. It’s only been open for a few hours. It’s been pretty much packed today,” Linscott said.

He added that he thinks the patio will be an attraction for new customers.

“(It’s) the coolest place to sit imaginable,” Linscott said. “It’s sweet.”

In addition to the patio, Donkey will soon unveil another completed renovation to the building.

Four four-bedroom apartments located above the coffee house have been rented out to students. Pyle said construction on the apartments was originally slated to finish in early March, but he said they are now looking at a June 10 move-in date for renters.

“When we bought the building, it was pretty vacant upstairs, and we wanted to make money,” Pyle said. “And we want to do Donkey for the rest of our lives … so we thought it’d be a good (investment) to fall back on.”

The apartments are being rented out at $495 per month, not including utilities, Pyle said.

The total cost of Pyle’s investment in Donkey — including the espresso bar, the patio and purchasing the building — is about $1.1 million. Pyle added that the total expenses were more than he originally projected.

“We wanted to (build apartments) ever since we opened Donkey,” Pyle said.

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