Portland Water Stories - Bison Coffeehouse (VIDEO)

Blog Post
A woman wearing a pink shirt and chunky earrings making coffee
The Portland Water Bureau's SPUR (Small Business Utility Relief) Program helped dozens of businesses throughout the Metro area by providing credits to their utility bill accounts to help offset the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A bison that came to Loretta Guzman in a dream changed the path of her career and her life. At the time she was being treated for cancer, she was visited by ancestors in the form of bison, which provided for the Shoshone-Bannock tribes of Fort Hall, Idaho. 

“I knew I had to represent our people from the past into the present,” said Guzman, who is in full remission. “If it weren’t for the decisions of people of the past, and for my grandparents that helped me when I was sick, we wouldn’t be here today.” 

Bison Coffeehouse has been serving the Cully neighborhood since 2014. Guzman has called Northeast Portland her home her entire life. Guzman noticed her shop drew in members of the local business community so she brought in bigger tables to accommodate meetings. That adaptive approach has helped her business survive during these challenging times.  

“I’ve been open this whole time. When businesses started closing down, I stayed up all night and read all of the regulations to see how we could stay open,” said Guzman. After a brainstorming session with her sister, she and a friend in the construction field built a walk-up window, improved the ground and added more outdoor tables.  

She said the SPUR bill credits for her sewer/stormwater/water bill will offset the upcoming costs of additional lights and awnings to make her space inviting through the fall and winter.  Guzman is confident that Bison Coffeehouse will weather this storm. “We’re resilient and we’ll figure it out. I might lose sleep but there will be another day to rest.” 

Bison Coffeehouse is one of more than 500 small businesses that received one-time credits through the Small Business Program for Utility Relief (SPUR).