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Meeting of the minds

Entrepreneurs with similar coffee shop ideas choose partnership over competition

In 2001, Doug Hughes was a local truck driver and cook with dreams of opening his own coffee shop in downtown Medford.

At the same time, Gold Hill resident Barry Dickinson ' a former dot-com manager from San Diego ' had his own plans to open a downtown coffee shop catering to Internet users and online gamers.

The two men didn't know each other but eventually learned about each other's plans. They met in April, and by May 2001, the computer expert who didn't know as much about coffee and the truck driver with a love of gourmet java scrapped any future competition and became partners.

On Monday, their dreams of a combination Internet and coffee house culminated with the opening of Bean Online at 35 S. Bartlett St.

We were both trying to do the same thing, but just a little bit different, Hughes said. It was quite a project to get here.

The coffee shop, which serves Allann Bros. Coffee Co. coffee and deli food items, is in the same building off Main Street that houses one of Rogue Community College's offices, with more of the campus a block away.

It's a perfect location, both partners agree. Bean Online is open seven days a week until 11 p.m. and caters to college students and other patrons working late at night.

We wanted all this room and we wanted to be by the college, Dickinson said of the 1,900-square-foot structure the partners have leased. That was the main goal for us.

Within three weeks, Dickinson said all 20 computers will be installed. The majority will be in a separate room, but a few are installed in the coffee house's den-like setting amid the couch, chairs, television and entertainment center.

Also in place are printers, fax and copy machines. All of Bean Online's machines are equipped with high-speed DSL Internet connections.

This is a clean environment, Hughes said. We don't allow any pornography. We don't allow sites that are offensive. We can monitor everything through our master computer.

The facility is specifically tailored to gamers ' customers who can, for &

36;5 an hour, log on play Dune, Diablo, Quake or Alien or more against online opponents. Once the business is running at full speed, Dickinson said tournaments and gaming events will be scheduled.

Barry Dickinson, left, and Doug Hughes started independently with the same idea for a business and met along the way, joining forces to open Bean Online, a new Internet coffee house in downtown Medford. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli