A cup of decaf with a side of art

Terri Montague

Photo by Jimmy Boegle

Terri Montague, 44, is the owner of Esoteric, an art gallery/coffee house located at Sierra and First streets that opened Dec. 29 in the Parking Gallery. The San Jose native moved to Reno about 18 months ago, because she “needed a break from the snow” after living in a series of snowy places, including Alaska, Vermont and Lake Tahoe. Montague is single with two children: Tony, 22, and Chris, 17.

What in the heck is an ‘Esoteric'?

It means “meant for few to understand.” When I say that, most people say “What? I don’t get it.”

I would be one of those people, I guess. Why did you name the gallery/coffee shop that?

The concept of art and coffee is a well-known concept, but having a whole art gallery combined with a coffee bar is a different concept. Also, most people told me that this would be a tough corner to break because of its background, but I saw things differently.

How’s it going so far?

It’s going great. It’s a ton of work, but it’s a lot of fun, and that’s what counts. I get to do what I love the most, which is always rearranging things.

Rearranging things? Wow. What’s the hardest part of that?

Trying to keep things in an artistic flow that holds people’s interest. Keeping things different is a challenge. You have to always work at it—moving stuff around, planning events, stuff like that.

This is an art gallery/coffee bar. First, about art: How do you decide on the art you display?

I look at it once a month to decide what to put on the featured art wall. That always changes once a month. Everything else, [the artists and their art] just strikes me. I am really lucky. I usually end up getting in stuff that I really like.

Second, about coffee: What’s the secret to a good cuppa joe?

It’s using Uncommon Grounds Organic Coffee Beans. I don’t think everyone realizes the organic part makes the coffee taste smoother. And it’s better for you. And it makes for happier workers. It’s a great thing all the way around.

You’ve been here for six months. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened so far?

Well, I got locked out of our building this morning.

Goodness! How did that happen?

I gave all my keys away [to employees] and misread the schedule. I thought someone else would be here, but it turned out I was supposed to open the place myself. But that’s not really funny. It was actually quite frustrating.

What do you hope will happen here in the future?

I hope it will become a happening corner in downtown Reno that everybody will want to come to. It’s a little bit of an oasis from all the casinos and craziness, isn’t it?