Before I launched "City Walkabout" in January, I scouted the city's coffeehouses to find not just great ambience but a personality of regulars. My goal was to meet with these regulars weekly, get to know them and establish their voice on my log as commentators on life in their neighborhood and life in general.
Looking for a tableful of amenable regulars, I started out favoring Amani in Deutschtown because it is close to where I live, I love the look and feel of the place and I'm fond of Terra Jones, the owner. She opened at the end of 2006 on Foreland Street.
I spent some time in Perk Me Up in Lawrenceville. Helen McMullen opened it on Butler Street in 2005; her pastries alone would have made it a great (selfish) choice.
Several other coffeehouses had their strengths and weaknesses, but it was at Tazza d'Oro in Highland Park where I found the amenable group of regulars.
On Friday night, owner Amy Enrico threw a 10th anniversary party at the Highland Avenue "third place" for what turned out to be more than 100 people.
People flocked in, from single hipsters to whole families and oldsters, forming a line out the door to fill plates of foods from other local businesses that Amy is always generous to acknowledge and support. It reminded me of a family reunion.
Amy conceded that Tazza d'Oro was her vision but said her support "and my staff are phenomenal. No one could do this without such great people. It has been an emotional week" in celebration of 10 years in business.
Here's what she writes on her web site, http://www.tazzadoro.net/:
I began working on the business plan for Tazza D'Oro 12 years ago. One of the main components of the plan was to find an exceptional coffee roaster. At that time, I was traveling weekly for my job and would spend evenings and weekends tasting coffee and visiting roasters, including 2 places in Canada. After more than a year and a few months before our opening we had a few coffee roasters to pick from but not exceptional coffee roasters. While having lunch in the Farmer's Market in Olympia, a friend said have you "tried those guys". She was pointing to the Batdorf and Bronson Roastry just behind the market. I got up from the table and the rest of the story for the last 10 years you know.
In coming weeks, Walkabout will debut a new feature in which you will meet Amy, Phil, Rachel, Paula, Matt, Jane, Ross and others who join their conversations several mornings a week.
Happy 10th Taz'... and may all the other great coffee shops have such a tenure.