Monday, October 8, 2007

The Nearest Thing We Have to Heaven...

in this town is actually not the Christian college I work at. Rather, it is a little-known spot of wonderfulness known as Besso's. During my student days we often lamented over the lack of a coffee shop in town. There was Jammin' Juice and Java, directly across the street from my freshman dorm that had great smoothies and where some cute boys used to play guitar. People spilled out the doors. It wasn't the kind of place to go an read quietly or study. It was the place to hang out and have great smoothies and watch cute boys strum their guitars "slow and soulful." Or fast and loud, whatever. Holly, Molly and I used to sit and play songs on the jukebox--I'm Sensitive by Jewel, Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and something else (maybe Sarah Maclachlan!?!) were our anthemic choices. Good times. But one thing we noticed was that this JJ&J did not seem to draw much of an audience from the local populace. And once the price of my smoothie hit $4.99 (in 1997), the writing was on the wall. One day, JJ&J was no more.

Then there was...well. By the time I was a junior they had installed a Chinese place. Now, they clearly did not serve coffee there, but it served to distract most people from the fact that there was no place to get coffee. The simmering bright pink sauces and unnaturally green broccoli were enough for the moment.

After I finished my friends opened a Bubba's Bagels franchise in town, which quickly met the same fate as JJ&J. (But not China King, which is still going strong.)

Driving into town on Day One, I saw a large, unattractive sign glowing up at me from Main Street--CREAMERY--it spells out in massive white Arial font. Not allowing the ugly sign to distract me, I walked through the door to discover a delightful coffee shop. Renovated from an old building in this Reconstruction-era community, the owners added attractive lighting and flower baskets. Placed little cafe tables outside. Inside--yummy leather chairs with tall backs. Vintage wine barrels for tables. Even a chess set or two. Wow. And not only is the coffee great, but they also serve Junior's cheesecakes. In NY, I lived across from the famous deli with its world-renowned cheesecake.

Because of Besso's, I have a haven to go to from my apartment which smells like smoke and pickles, looks like a glorified dorm room and has all the charm of a prison cell. Because of Besso's, the community has a place to sit down for a cup of coffee, or get ice cream for the kids after a ballgame or scout meeting. Because of Besso's, the community also gets a lesson in adaptive re-use for historic buildings. Most importantly, I think in the community's eyes, is that the cafe is clearly designed to meet the needs of all people who come in, and not just the members of the FHU community. Its owners are two doctors who happen to run a coffeeshop because they like having one around. Read: It's not going to fold anytime soon.

So, tonight, I'd like to give props to this little spot of heaven on earth. If you're ever around, I'll treat you to a cup.

3 comments:

holly said...

TOTALLY gonna hold you to it. I miss JJ&J's and the Mancala game and being a freshman...well, I miss certain parts of being a freshman--the ones having to do with you and a few others. It was all so new and hopeful then, though, and the music and the money we spent on "frappers" reflected every yummy bit of it. Thanks for this.

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