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Coffee's brewing, so get cozy with a book

Can you smell the cappuccino? A new coffee shop awakens the senses at the Platt Regional Library.

By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 28, 2002


Carol Whitney breezed in for a latte. Wendy Tilden and John Harnett kibitzed over iced tea.

Guess the venue.

Starbucks?

(Hint: Books were involved.)

Borders?

Correct answer: the Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, which made history this month by opening Hillsborough County's first library coffee shop.

Already, Bookends Cafe could publish a bestseller list, with entries steamy as a Jackie Collins novel. There's Caffe Mocha and Caffe Latte, along with cappuccino and a simple cup of coffee; for young readers, milk, hot chocolate and a cooler of juices; plus munchies for all, including Biscotti, bagels and pastries.

The only rule: Lids rule at Bookends Cafe.

"Any drink can be taken into the library as long as it has a lid," says 23-year-old Paul Arcand, the coffee shop manager who confesses to guests that he doesn't actually like coffee.

Still, rolls of paper towels have become a librarian's best friend.

"There's been a couple of minor spills, but we're prepared," said John Bostick, head of reference services.

"They can put their cup on the floor, just not up on the computer table," he said.

The county signed a renewable, two-year contract with Nidda and Patrick Butcher to run the cafe. The Butchers own Ja' Vahz gourmet coffee shop, 4330 El Prado Blvd. The agreement gives the county 4 percent of gross sales in excess of $2,000 a month, according to county library spokesman Patrice Koerper.

Tuesday, on an overcast morning, manager Arcand opened at 10 a.m. to a half dozen waiting customers.

They quickly added cream and sugar and took coffees into a meeting room, where, regularly, quilters gather.

"We're glad it's here -- it's a nice convenience," said Meg Edwards, who quilts at the library twice a month.

"Such a luxury," added Linda Masters, between stitches.

"Especially when someone else makes it," agreed Edwards.

Tilden, from Guernsey Estates, and Harnett, from Virginia Park, settled into a corner table.

"We're Ja' Vahz regulars," Harnett said. "But this is making us library users. They've got everything Barnes & Noble has in here."

Quilter Ursula Baumgartner enjoys the aroma.

Only Corinne Trithart expressed reservations. Keeping one eye on daughter Lily, 2, and holding baby Marley, 1, she worried hot coffee and busy toddlers could be a hazardous combination.

Margaret Palmer of Palma Ceia popped in to see what all the fuss was about. She didn't have time to stay, but said she'd be back.

"I'm here once every week or two," said Palmer. "I know just which big, comfy chair over there I'll have my coffee in."

The library, at 3910 S. Manhattan Ave., was named for six-term county Commissioner Jan Platt.

Bookends Cafe is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday, 10 am. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, call 272-6000.

-- Amy Scherzer can be reached at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com.

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