You can learn a lot about a coffee shop when you spend four hours there. I wasn't supposed to be there for that long, that wasn't the plan at all.
The reason I was at the coffee shop in the first place was because of my daughter, Mallory. We were in our favorite northern town for a long weekend so that she could go to a couple of job interviews. She was happy to have a weekend away from the pressures of the last few weeks of college life; to spend time with her momma and the bonus was that momma would pay for everything. Mallory had discovered this coffee shop from the photos of someone that she follows on Instagram. She loved the look of the place.
Of course I love new to me coffee shops, so I was more than willing to check this place out. The plan was, that I would write a Coffee Shop Chronicle and wait for her while she was at her interview. Once she got done with the interview she would come to the coffee shop, and we would discuss how it went over lattes. After that we would go back to the hotel so she could change out of her lovely interview dress and magical red sandals into warmer Northern Michigan clothes. From there we would go downtown to Bubba's for lunch, home of the best hamburgers in Traverse City.
What messed up the plan was the fact that the interview took two hours. I guess it went well. After the interview she still had a half hour drive back into town. She didn't arrive until after one.
I arrived at the coffee shop at twenty past ten.
As soon as I walked in the door, I knew what Mallory would love about this place, what had intrigued her from the photo she had seen on Instagram. Big, light filled open space with high industrial ceilings. This coffee shop is actually located in a converted warehouse filled with retail shops, and a paint-it-yourself ceramics studio.
There are large sliding glass windows at the front of the coffee shop that during nicer weather could slide fully open making it feel like an open air coffee shop. The color palette was soothing to the eye, white walls, black tables and chairs, with the accent color of greenery.
I received a friendly greeting the moment I walked through the door. A clearly defined order area was straight ahead. On their menu board was the listing "house-made" chai, always the best because they each have a unique flavor and I like the unexpected. I ordered the chai and a very healthy looking granola bar, since the bowl of Raisin Bran that I had in the breakfast room of the hotel that morning had long lost it's filling affect.
The pretty, dark-haired, fresh scrubbed order taker (she reminded me of someone who would be in a Dove Soap commercial) gave me my granola bar on a exquisite glass plate with a real metal fork. She told me she would bring out my chai as soon as she had it done.
All the little black two seater tables were currently full and the large natural wood farmhouse table in the middle of the seating area had a couple of wedding planners spread out on it. That left the long black counter along the front windows. I have grown very comfortable with sitting at these window counters. Ever the photographer, the draw of that natural window light on this rainy overcast day for the shots of my chai and granola bar sealed the deal.
Dove Soap girl soon brought over my chai and I set the pieces into place for my usual coffee shop chronicle shot. I absolutely loved the green cut glass dessert plate that my granola bar was on, that paired with the black coffee cup was a stunning combination. The cut glass plate reminded me of my grandma. She always said beautiful things were meant to be used and enjoyed, not just to be admired on the shelves of a china cabinet. Whenever we had our afternoon snack of buttered with real butter Saltines crackers and Ovaltine at her house, she always served the Saltines on clear cut glass dessert plates. She would have loved these green ones.
I realized after I settled in with my chai, granola bar, notebook and pen, and as I looked out the window at my car across the street, that I hadn't put any coins into the parking meter. That would be the one thing I find slightly annoying about this town; the parking meters. Especially since I come from a town where you can park anywhere for free. Still I knew that if I didn't go out and feed the meter I would somehow get a ticket. I looked around the coffee shop, nobody seemed perched on the edge of their seat waiting to steal my food and writing paraphernalia the second I stepped out the door. So I took a chance, grabbed my wallet and coat and went across the street to the meter. Four quarters equalled two hours, that should be enough, shouldn't it. If not at half past twelve I would go out and feed it some more change. I would rather go out more often than give it money for more time than I will use.
Back inside, nobody had made off with my food or my notebook. Finally I could eat my granola bar and start writing.
By the time I had finished my food and Dove Soap girl had taken my dishes away, the coffee shop was starting to empty out. A two seater table next to the window became available so I gathered my writing materials and moved other there. A much better vantage point to observe the goings on in the coffee shop.
I love watching the interaction between coffee shop employees and the regular customers. You can always tell which ones are the daily regulars, they sit at the counter next to the espresso machine, and they pick up the same conversation they were having there the day before.
Besides Dove Soap girl there was one other coffee shop employee, a bearded man with a voice that carried well over the noise of the coffee shop customers, a plus for some one like me who is trying to eavesdrop on their conversation.
At the counter sat two guys; one a dark haired guy probably close to my daughter's age, I hoped that she would come while he was still there, but that was not to be. The other guy, an older gentleman with the hippest silver framed glasses. Since he did not have a lot of hair they were a very predominant feature. I had seen this gentleman ride up on his bike and I gathered from listening to their conversations that he was an avid cyclist, and also a cancer survivor. He was quite excited to get his road bike out the next day since the forecast promised sunshine and temperatures in the fifties.
I gathered from listening to their conversations that this coffee shop was still fairly new and were still working out their hours and everyone's schedules. A good thing to master now before the summer season and all the tourists hit town. This place is a little off the beaten path, located on a side street a few blocks from the main downtown area. Most tourists never venture from the main street, goodness knows I never did for years either. Maybe I have finally moved from the status of tourist to status of occasional local.
Truly the best treasures are never located right under our noses. You have to search for them, but they are so worth finding.