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Real Estate - Commercial

Three Friends Coffee To Grow With New Skyline Center, Ogden Locations

By Emma Dill, posted May 24, 2024
Three Friends Coffee is expanding with two new locations, including one on the ground floor of the city-owned Skyline Center (pictured above). (Photo courtesy of Three Friends Coffee)
A local coffee shop is growing its footprint with two new locations in the coming months, including one on the ground floor of Wilmington’s Skyline Center.

Three Friends Coffee will open on June 3 in an approximately 800-square-foot space inside the city-owned office building on the north end of downtown Wilmington. The coffee shop will be open to both city employees and the public.

Three Friends Coffee began in 2021 as a small drive-thru and walk-up trailer in a parking lot along Market Street. At the time, a brick-and-mortar location was too expensive, according to Michele Marthaller, who owns the business with partners Jesse Marthaller and Mark Hanson.

“We believed that, with the team we have, if we started small, we could continue to grow into something that could really make a lasting impact,” Marthaller wrote Friday in a message to the Business Journal.

In 2023, Three Friends Coffee established a brick-and-mortar location in a strip mall at 4719 New Centre Drive in Wilmington. Now, the business is planning two expansions – one at Skyline Center and one in Ogden that will provide more space for the coffee shop’s play cafe.

The Odgen location at 7038 Market St #100 will include a full-size play cafe with a large indoor kids play area, a coffee shop and a bookstore, according to Marthaller. The space is expected to open in July.

The expansions are the culmination of years of work, Marthaller wrote, “as we try to make our dream and vision a reality for the community and our families.” 

“Having put so much into this already, it is truly a dream come true to make these expansions,” she added.

In the Skyline Center, Three Friends Coffee is taking over a space that previously operated as a coffee shop but has been dormant since the pandemic, according to city spokesperson Dylan Lee. The space was already built out and equipped for a cafe, so the upfit didn’t require much work – just a few appliance repairs, a fresh coat of paint and other special touches, according to Marthaller.

The new coffee shop’s menu will be very similar to the one at the New Centre Drive location, which features signature lattes and other coffee drinks along with house-made donuts and baked goods.

Starting June 3, the coffee shop will be open in the Skyline Center on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The owners are working with Skyline Center officials to open to the public on weekends, Marthaller wrote.

They’re also working with what Marthaller called “another famously local establishment” to offer lunch items. The yet-to-be-announced partnership will be posted on Three Friends Coffee's social media pages.

With this lease, the city aims to “activate” the Skyline Center space, making it an amenity for both city staff and members of the public that visit the facility, according to Lee. 

The city’s lease with Three Friends Coffee officially begins on June 1. The lease costs $16,800 and will run for one year, Lee wrote in an email to the Business Journal.

The city of Wilmington purchased the 12-story office building at 929 N. Front St. last July for $68 million. The building was formerly owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific and home to Wilmington-based pharmaceutical research firm PPD.

Following the purchase, city leaders planned to occupy roughly five floors while leasing two floors of the building back to Thermo Fisher Scientific. The city is working with Cape Fear Commercial to lease the remaining vacant space in the building.

Earlier this year, Wilmington leaders approved leasing space in the Skyline Center to Raleigh-based bank Local Government Federal Credit Union, Wilmington nonprofit Leading Into New Communities, Inc. (LINC), the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau and, most recently, Tova Wealth Management LLC.
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