I admit it. I did not want to see a Starbucks in the Village. I was a regular at the Rosecart Café – that charming little bistro in a century house on East Washington Street where Ginny Rosen and Guy Cartwright served up coffee drinks and light breakfast from 1994 to 2001. The Rosecart was my Cheers – the place where everyone knew my name; the place where I met up with friends and colleagues; my home away from home.
I remember declaring to anyone who would listen that I would never set foot in that new coffee house chain that was sweeping the country. I didn’t care how good the coffee was or how many of those ubiquitous green and white logos were cropping up in towns like Chagrin, I would never betray my local coffee house.
But then Starbucks came and the Rosecart closed and Home Alone disbanded and I realized I would need to eat my words if I intended to continue drinking my morning hot chocolate. Gradually Starbucks became the accepted place to meet a friend or a colleague over a latte or hot cider or pumpkin spice something. But it wasn’t until just last week that I realized our local Starbucks has become, for me, so much more than that.
For the second time in as many weeks, I had been without power for days. Hours of shivering in the dark under layers of old blankets with no running water and nothing to eat but cereal and luke warm milk had left me in a cantankerous mood, to say the least. But finally, after two days stranded by trees across my driveway, I was free to head to Starbucks for the Venti hot chocolate and cheese Danish warmed two times that has become my morning ritual.
When I walked in, Ahnee and her crew greeted me with a resounding “Timy” and when I stepped up to place my order, Big Joe (who makes sure any new barista knows just how to warm a cheese Danish to my crispy liking) asked where I’d been for the past two days and showed genuine concern about my situation. I was actually so hungry I ordered two Danishes that day, so Olivia put them in a bag for me. I noticed that it felt a little heavy but didn’t realize until I got home that she had slipped a cheery iced snowman cookie in the bottom of the bag as a surprise. When I headed back outside, I found myself trapped by sidewalks that had not been cleared (a column for another day), and that little slant that connects the Main Street sidewalk to River Street was a sheet of ice. High drifts of rock-hard snow from the plows left no way around it. I was trying to figure out how to get back to my car without breaking bones when Joe appeared like Paul Bunyan to clear and salt the sidewalk and when he noticed me looking helplessly at that icy slant, he came over and steadied me so I could get safely home.
Even though I was headed back to a still-cold house, my icy mood instantly melted and I realized how much I’ve come to depend on the Starbucks crew to get even the toughest days off to a good start. Of course, there are no meetings with friends and colleagues now, but Starbucks has become my Cheers – an essential part of my lingering love for the Village I’ve cherished for half a century.