The cafe and bar run by former Marine Matt Victoriano faced dire straits last year, when Victoriano announced that high rent costs and a slump in business were forcing him to close his business. In response, loyal customers helped Victoriano mount a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign, raising enough funds to cover the cafe’s immediate costs and forestalling its closure. After a brief hiatus, Intrepid Life reopened December 9 at 904 Broad Street in Durham.

Victoriano, who Recess spoke to early last fall, is an earnest man of few words. That earnestness has already been tested several times; Intrepid Life was originally conceived as a brewing company (it’s PayPal account still reads, “Intrepid Life Brewing LLC”), but when funding fell short, Victoriano transformed the venture into the Parrish Street cafe. Now, in its latest reincarnation, Intrepid Life will no longer be a cafe, but instead a co-working space where members will decide what they pay for products.

While Intrepid Life does not have the continuous, airy space it had at its original location on Parrish Street (its new location on Broad Street is zoned as office space) it now has more of a residential feel to it.

“It’s not as open, but it is more comfortable and laid back,” Victoriano noted of the space.

The new space has several living room areas, couches, a TV and a kitchen where members will be able to bring their own ingredients and make food. Members will be able to enjoy color printing and wifi. Victoriano will also be operating the coffee and wine bar during regular hours.

The most novel aspect of the new Intrepid Life is its pay-what-you-want business model, where customers decide what to fork over for everything they consume - even if they decide not to pay anything at all.

“It’s based on the honor system,” Victoriano said. According to him, the model has been well received so far. Those who wish to use the space will first have to register through Intrepid’s website and pay a monthly fee of six dollars to become a member. Once registered, members will have 24/7 access to the co-working space and all its services.

“It’s a different concept,” Victoriano explained. “It’s not a retail establishment anymore.”

Victoriano believes that Intrepid Life’s new model is more in line with how he had first imagined the nonprofit to be.

“The reason I started the original space was bettering community development, bringing everyone together to learn from one another and make positive change in the community.”

Managing a retail establishment, with its myriad of complications and responsibilities, made fulfilling that goal difficult. Victoriano has high hopes that a co-working space will be accessible to Duke and Durham residents and become a social space where people can begin and work on projects together. In the future, Victoriano hopes to begin fitness and storytelling programs through Intrepid’s new location to further its environment of community collaboration.

The inspiration for Intrepid’s new model came from an NPR radio piece Victoriano heard that described a pizza shop in Cincinnati which grew its own ingredients and let customers pay what they want for pizza. The DIY flair and the community-oriented aspect of the NPR story appealed to Victoriano.

“Based on my experience with the community that came into Intrepid, that gave me inspiration to try it here [in Durham] and be successful,” he said.