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Espresso percolates freely starting Sunday

During the Civil War, the three-story brick building at 401-403 First St. opened as a general store operated by dry goods dealer William Manly.

Some 147 years later - after incarnations as a newspaper office, an auto dealership, a pool hall and floral and gift shops - the historic structure welcomes a new tenant to its 1,520-square-foot first floor.

The Freedom of Espresso coffee shop celebrates its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 19. Its daily hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Syracuse-based caf chain already does business at four Central New York locations, all of which are Wi-Fi connected. Owner Anna Dobbs opened her first shop in 1995 at 424 Pearl St., in the city. The second shop opened in 2001 in Armory Square, a third in 2004 in the village of Fayetteville, and a fourth in 2007 on Solar Street in the city's Franklin Square.

"Each of the four stores has its own individual personality," Dobbs said. "We develop our stores with a respect for the surroundings and with an intent to build community."

FOE roasts its own coffee beans and specializes in its namesake espresso but also sells a few single-origin coffees such as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. Many customers rave about FOE's iced mocha slushes.

Known in recent years as the Olde Liverpool Shoppes, the building at the corner of First and Tulip streets was purchased in late-2007 by JGB Properties owner Jay Bernhardt.

Freedom of Espresso is leasing the space from JGB, which has renovated the Italianate-style building originally erected about 1863. In 2009, JGB partnered with the village of Liverpool to qualify for a $883,302 state grant to support the rehabilitation project, and this summer tenants moved into nine brand-new apartments on the building's second and third floors.

The village business district now boasts three specialty coffee shops, Sweet Treats at Heid's, the Caf at 407 at Ophelia's Place and Freedom of Espresso.

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