Business & Development, Springfield

Pump Cafe owner has bold dreams for business revamp

SPRINGFIELD — The iconic Pump Cafe at 710 Main St. in Springfield has changed ownership, and the new owner’s coffee mug is overflowing with ideas on improvements.

With model airplanes hanging from above and construction signs covering the rusty orange walls, the Pump Cafe has been a retro “staple of our food industry,” said Sean VanGordon, Springfield mayor.

Although iconic, the Pump Cafe is in need of some love and 19-year-old Chloe Nossaman has hit the ground running, revamping the breakfast and lunch hot spot. 

This is good news for the Springfield business community, according to Vonnie Mikkelsen, president and CEO of the Springfield Chamber.

“Women in general are extremely good at business,” she said. “I see a young woman who has what it takes to be successful in the venture – drive, courage, and work ethic. She’ll be a mentor for her peers in no time.” 

Nossaman has always been ambitious.

“She thinks about it clearly and plans it out … I was not surprised when she was interested in buying the Pump,” said Lola Buckwald, Nossaman’s aunt. “When she gets her head around something, she goes for it.”

A 2021 graduate of Thurston High, Nossaman said she always sought to rise above high school norms. 

“I never really wanted to go to parties and sports games and dances,” she said. “I went to the dances, but I never wanted to spend every waking minute of my life trying to be popular … I was trying to think about the big picture, like what I’m going to do for my entire life.” 

Her drive to think “big picture” is the reason she spent more time at the Pump during high school than doing extracurriculars, she says. 

For the past two years, Nossaman worked part-time at the Pump Cafe. “As soon as she was hired, things started changing immediately,” said Megan Grinder, a server at the Pump Cafe. “I have been here for two years and nobody learned as fast as Chloe. She just adapted so well … I feel like she was made to be an owner.”

While working part time, Nossaman’s responsibilities often included serving, running grocery errands, cleaning and making hires. She also purchased light fixtures with her own savings and fixed up shelves — all while eyeing business growth opportunities. 

“We knew how good it could be … we knew how much potential it could have in the right hands,” Nossaman said. 

Nossaman felt a tug for things to be under her control, and knew that she had what it takes to be in charge. 

“At that time, the previous owner (Oh “Charlie” y Lee) wasn’t looking to sell, but Chloe really took charge,” said Grinder. Charlie “saw how motivated she was and how much effort she put into it … he felt more secure knowing that it was going to go into good hands.” 

A couple of days after her 19th birthday, Nossaman met with the bank by herself and asked for a loan.

“I said to myself ‘I could actually make this happen’ and that’s when it all started,” she said. “All of us had so many ideas. Everyone here cares about the place so much … We wanted it to succeed.”

The reaction from bank employers was overwhelmingly positive. “They loved seeing a young person take initiative to something as big as this,” Nossaman said. After months of paperwork assessing sales, value, profit, expenses and tax returns, the money came through, and Nossaman purchased the business on Oct. 17.

A family full of creatives, Lola Buckwald, who is a local artist,  has been helping Nossaman design a logo and t-shirts. They hope to have painting parties at the cafe, with Buckwald instructing.

“She’s super creative and she’s so good in the kitchen. She’s always been the one that makes all the really fancy desserts for our family gatherings,” Buckwald said. 

Before parties take place, Nossaman has a laundry list of tasks to tackle.

Glancing toward the ceiling of the Pump Cafe, one cannot miss the retro garage doors that are retracted, and the windows that sit in their rightful place toward the ground. 

Nossaman hopes to get the garage doors functioning so the Pump Cafe can have an open air dining area in the summer, leading to an outdoor patio, where they can have live music.

“Who wants to listen to live music? We could have a fire pit. There’s a lot of room for potential and ideas,” Nossaman said.

Inside the space, Nossaman wants to give the walls a fresh coat of paint and get rid of the rusty orange color that darkens the room. 

A neon LED sign will soon hang on the entrance wall, which Nossaman hopes to paint black as an accent point.

Next to the garage doors hangs a large inoperative stop light, which she also hopes to fix. 

“My dad has been helping me a lot with electrical things, and I’m more confident in my handiwork skills,” she said. “I love having so much room for improvement. There’s just endless things to do, which can be a little overwhelming, but I’d rather die than have nothing to do.”

Nossaman certainly has a heart for her customers, with personalized buttons on the reister for regular customers she knows by name. Grace, Gilbert, Ron and Nancy all have their own buttons, she said. 

Since taking ownership, Nossaman has hired more servers, which makes it easier to be personable with customers. Prior to Nossaman’s ownership, the only servers were herself and Grinder. 

“It was getting harder to be more personal with everybody when we had only two servers. Now we talk to the customers and form a relationship versus just saying, ‘Hi’, ‘Welcome in,’ and ‘Here’s your food.’”

Speaking of food, Nossaman has also made updates to the menu, bringing back the potato pancakes and the HAM burger (featuring ham and a fried egg on top of a ground beef patty). Nossaman also added daily soups, expanded the kids menu and plans to bring back the double-sided sweet and savory french toast menu.

“I’m trying to keep everything fresh and as homemade as possible,” Nossaman said. 

Nossaman intends on getting a liquor license, which means mimosas with brunch and beer and wine with dinner. 

“No one wants to have dinner without beer or wine, I guess. I’m 19; I can’t drink but the idea sounds nice, sitting on the patio with your friends and having a drink,” said Nossaman.



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