Back on May 6, I wrote “,” extolling the delights and public benefits of a good, strong coffeehouse. I regret to say we aren’t there yet. Brown’s Coffee, which celebrated its only March 10, this year, . This is really too bad, because Neal made a heck of a cup and really put himself into it.
Angela at Laughing Ladies said that August 14, after the Jazz Walk, would be their last day.
“We’ve been at it for five years, three-and-a-half of those in a bad economic downturn,” she said.
I remarked that, with the loss of Brown’s the neighborhood had no coffeehouse now.
She resignedly observed, “Yeah, but the neighborhood never really supported us. A lot of transients, low income folks, public housing, fixed income. You go down to Lake Forest Park- mansions. Not here. Leena’s goes on ‘cuz of the seniors. They eat three meals a day there. Suni’s stays because they have a great, cheap burger. Not us.”
I thought after Brown’s closed they’d all come to Laughing Ladies, but Angela said “We got back about what we lost when they opened. About $50.00 a day.”
Laughing Ladies was established in December, 2006, after it purchased Hotwire Coffee in January, 2007, and completed the changeover, renaming it ‘Laughing Ladies’ in February, 2009, and now it’s going away. I don’t mean to ignore any other coffeehouse in town, and, not counting the drive-throughs, we still have Richmond Beach Coffee on Richmond Beach Road, Café Aroma keeps it going at NE 165th and 5th NE in Ridgecrest, three Starbucks, Rich Delich on Richmond Beach Road has a picnic table, but no indoor seating.
I wrote: “This is about community and democracy, and nurturing the kinds of places where business- commercial, political, and social- gets done is inherently an issue of sustainability. It’s not such a bad deal, you know? You strengthen your maturing hometown and have a hot mocha in the process!” In a real way, I think this is down to us. As my anonymous correspondent said “Believe me, a lot of thought and angst goes into choosing business hours. If a coffee shop tried a 24 hour format, it would not be available soon anyway, because the owner would go under due to the operating costs of doing so. After 4 p.m., most coffee shops are a ghost town…”
“How we all wish it were (possible)! EVERY coffeeshop would immediately be open 24/7, because the rent is already a sunk cost, and so if there were any revenues to be made by being open longer it would be the fastest and easiest way to increase revenues."
I guess I was way ahead of my time in touting all this. It seems even our most urban neighborhood is still unable to keep a good coffeehouse open. It feels like the end of an all-too-short era in North City, but it may not be over. As Ali, Angela’s daughter and the other ‘Laughing Lady’ told me “There might still be a coffeehouse in this space. We just don’t know yet.”
I really think it comes down to the size of its market. As I said, “the more people live close to it the greater its market and the longer its potential hours, so density is key to success!” Let’s keep the momentum going and really work at nurturing and enriching North City and the whole neighborhood development concept.