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Former Marine closes in on goal to keep coffee shop open

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Matt Victoriano's military background influenced every aspect of his Durham coffee house and bar, Intrepid Life. Matt Victoriano's military background influenced every aspect of his Durham coffee house and bar, Intrepid Life.
DURHAM, N.C. -

A business owner and former Marine says he may be able to keep his Durham coffee shop open after receiving an outpouring of support from the community.

Matt Victoriano said he had planned to shut down Intrepid Life Coffee & Spirits on Sept. 7 because of declining sales and past due rent.

To help keep the business open, Victoriano launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise $27,000 to help pay past-due rent, and make improvements to the coffee shop and bar.

Through a dance party fundraiser Thursday night and the funds raised so far through the online campaign, Victoriano said he has raised about $23,000 so far. A silent auction is scheduled for Wednesday.

"I've never seen a local community reach out and become so involved in an idea like the Durham community has," Victoriano said. "I think it's more the concept than it is me or anything else."

Victoriano opened Intrepid Life on West Parish Street in January after he built the space himself with the aid of a grant from the city.

He said the idea for the coffee shop and bar came after finding himself struggling to become involved in his community when he finished 4 years in the Marines as a scout sniper, team leader and chief scout.

"I couldn't work for anybody and that was really a product of that post-traumatic stress and that experience I had in combat and the Marines," said Victoriano, who served in the Army National Guard before training at Fort Bragg. "People didn't understand me and I didn't get along with them. I didn't want to."

He said opening the business kick started his healing process. His own intrepid spirit is told through the surroundings -- right down to the bar, which showcases his and his employees' military memorabilia.

"I've tried to integrate the aspects of my military experience in ways that civilians can see and appreciate that don't resemble a VFW hall," Victoriano told WNCN in May. "It's something that draws people in. I wanted them to understand that, so they needed some visuals."

Earlier this week, Victoriano was one of 10 veterans or their supporters honored by the White House as "Champions of Change."

These "Champions," the White House said, "[continue] to serve our country through their successful small businesses and nonprofits that create jobs, spur economic growth, and help their communities."

With the money raised through fundraisers, Victoriano said he hopes to "refine the bar and lighting, drawing in the evening crowd I had originally intended and that is necessary to increase revenue."

He said he also plans to "install a street side sign necessary to advertise to passing traffic [and] hire a shop manager so that I can focus on the event planning necessary to create the Intrepid community I had originally planned on and that is necessary to increase revenue."

He said he wants to lead weekly events that take advantage of his "specialized training and experience."

Wednesday silent auction will be held at the coffee shop from 12 until 8 p.m. Anyone who would like to donate items for the auction can contact Christina at christinadekker@gmail.com or bring the items to the shop.

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Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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