The creation of the Hannex General Store has truly been a labor of love for owner Liz Hanna.  Owner of the bar Mad Hanna on NE Fremont Street, Liz saw an opportunity to make a long-time vision into reality when the tenant space next door became vacant.  She contacted Waterleaf in January 2020 to discuss her idea of turning this former butcher shop into an art gallery and café to highlight the talents of people living with autism:

“Spectrum Gallery & Cafe will focus on employing first time workers, taking interns, and selling original and print art created by people living with autism. We will also consign items and show the work of other local artists and designers who are interested in supporting this vision. My 19 year-old twin sons are on the spectrum, and love creating art and telling stories. The dream of creating this space was born from loving them deeply and wanting to see them successful adults in this community. I want very much to highlight their talents and abilities, and the talents and abilities of their classmates in the Community Transitions Program (an extension of PPS). I believe this venture will do that and at the same time foster growth and beautification in our neighborhood.”  - Owner Liz Hanna, January 2020

The space was truly a blank slate, having been gutted by the previous tenant upon their departure.  The project scope included some structural upgrades to repair previous non-permitted work, relocation of the main electrical panel, enlarging and updating the restroom to current ADA standards, a new food service area, and new finishes and lighting throughout. The design would create areas for banquette seating, display of goods and art for sale, and a separate lounge space with soft seating for patrons needing a quieter environment.

However, in March 2020, the project was put on an indefinite hold due to the unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Like many other small business owners in the service industry, Liz struggled to keep Mad Hanna open while understanding the ever-changing health and safety requirements.  In April she contacted Waterleaf again with the idea to complete the design and construction of Spectrum with the idea that it will be a cafe and gallery in the future, but in the short-term to pivot slightly toward "essential services" and open it as a pantry or convenience store as soon as possible. The idea was to secure more consistent work for her current bar staff and be a helpful resource for the neighborhood.  So, Waterleaf began work again on the project in earnest with only slightly revised plans, eliminating seating for guests and integrating self-serve refrigerators and more shelf storage. 

Liz and her staff pitched in to help with demolition and the interior finish out, while the main construction was handled by I&E Construction.  Custom casework was created by Jon Clark, including a salvaged wood bar top featuring quirky touches such as inlaid jewelry, gears, and marbles.

Completed in spring 2021 and re-christened the “Hannex General Store”, the shop is open every day selling coffee, sandwiches, ice cream and pantry staples as well as gift items by local artisans.  After several months of successful business, Liz and her team are now starting to slow-pivot back toward the original idea for Spectrum Café, having hired staff to formulate a plan for coaching neurodiverse young adults and welcoming her own sons as their first trainees.

Our team at Waterleaf was thrilled to be a part of this incredible before & after story which has truly been all about heart and the unwavering drive to make a difference for the community.

Partners: I&E Construction, Magnum Opus Engineering, Custom casework by Jon Clark