When Din and I decided to open Ristretto Roasters Williams, we were very fortunate to work with Holst, one of whose principals, Jeff Stuhr, was a customer at the Beaumont location. Jeff hooked us up with a young architect at his firm, Harper Bates. Harper was about 33, tall and rangy, with blazing orange hair and the sort of countenance that, even when standing still, he appeared about to spring into action. He was also, at least with us, always smiling. He was a doll, super-curious about how we saw the Williams space coming together, and eager to let us be part of the design process. I do not exaggerate when I say Din and I always felt, walking into Holst to meet with Harper, like some of the most privileged people on the planet.
The Williams cafe opened in September 2008, just about the time Harper and his wife Amie had their first child, Nari, and also that Harper found out he had ALS. It was just a really rotten hand dealt to one of the loveliest people we have known. Harper died on Tuesday. His memorial is the 15th, the same day we will open our third cafe, which I know he would have dug the hell out of. His work is with us always, and though the photo here does not show his adorableness, I feel sure he would approve. I mean, look at her. Thank you, Harper.