Travis Jordan wanted to create something special in the community when he opened the doors of Rockabilly Roasting Co. seven years ago.
Now the community built around Jordan’s business has been left reeling after his sudden death.
He collapsed suddenly on Wednesday after a couple days of feeling sick, his longtime friend Kagen Cox told the Tri-City Herald. Medical staff weren’t able to revive him.
“We’re all devastated,” said Stephanie Button, the director of the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership. “It’s a very quiet day today. Everyone is in shock.“
The 41-year-old former Lampson Crane company roadie opened the doors to the Rockabilly Roasting Co. in 2015 after he and a co-worker had a vision to start a cafe.
He also wanted to be closer to home and his family.
The partners remodeled the former Kennewick Coffee shop on Kennewick Avenue and moved in a 5-pound Diedrich roaster.
Jordan, who had a degree in food science, fell in love with roasting coffee, Cox said.
After a few years in business, Jordan’s partner stepped out, and his wife, Laura, bought into the business. In that time, they have started shipping coffee across the region, and shipped around the world through Nocking Point Wines.
Both Laura, and the shop’s manager, have gotten involved in roasting.
He dreamed about how to improve downtown Kennewick, Cox said. He would sit with the late Ann Steiger, the former owner of the Roxy Theater Antiques, and come up with plans.
He was part of a pilot program to introduce “StrEateries” to Kennewick. The program allowed the business to put seating out on the street in front of their business.
“It was them going into that corner and relentlessly pursuing the business that was the turning point for that small part of town,” Cox said.
After Steiger’s death in 2020, he set out to buy the building, which he had just finished renovating.
“Travis Jordan’s impact on downtown was significant. As admired as he was for his growing his business, providing a gathering place for community, investing in a beloved building, and roasting great coffee, he was an engaged parent and husband who valued family,” said Emily Estes Cross, the economic development director for the city of Kennewick.
“Travis quietly led by example, steered clear of politics, and demonstrated kindness, solid judgment and integrity in making strategic business decisions.”
Mentor, friend, father
Jordan was focused on building his business, but he also helped other small business owners. Cox, the owner of Kagen Coffee & Crepes in Richland, was one of those people.
Cox was initially introduced to Jordan as a coffee guy. But their friendship began in earnest during a remodel at Cox’s shop.
He was stressed with work done when a mutual friend suggested asking for Jordan’s help. After reaching out, Jordan showed up and pitched in, kicking off a friendship that saw the two meeting every couple days.
Cox was not alone, Button said. He helped several other small businesses both inside and outside of downtown Kennewick.
“Travis was very much a mentor in this community, and in the coffee community,” she said. “He has mentored and had a profound impact on so many people. … We don’t use the term family lightly. It’s like we lost a family member.”
He also loved dreaming up new possible businesses with friends and his brothers, Cox said.
“We always joked around about taking the basement in the Roxy and turning it into a real speakeasy with a hidden door,” he said. “We talked about opening up a gym. A lot of the time talk would roll back around to our existing businesses.”
In addition to his business, Jordan loved fishing, hunting, working on his family’s farm in Wenatchee and spending time with family. He would often have his 8-year-old daughter help him as he worked on restoring a classic truck.
“He’s one of the best men I’ve ever met,” Cox said. “It was a privilege to know him.”
Memorials and the future
The downtown partnership is working on ways to help support Jordan’s wife and daughter.
The Kennewick Avenue business was shut down on Thursday with the news of Jordan’s death. His wife shared the news along with a photo of him on the store’s Facebook page.
She said the shop would be closed through Monday to give staff some time to grieve, the post said.
But Cox said the business would continue into the future. Many people have reached out with offers to help and he suggested that they should come into the store when it opens again and share their love.
This story was originally published November 17, 2022 5:37 PM.