Mar 31, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Better latte than never
Over its 147-year history, the brick building at 401-403 First St. in Liverpool has housed general stores, a newspaper office, a dentist’s office, an auto dealership, a pool hall and — most recently — antique stores, gift shops and a florist.
Come late summer, Freedom of Espresso hopes to open a coffee shop on the building’s 1,520 square foot first floor.
The Syracuse-based caf (c) chain already does business at four Central New York locations. Partners John and Anna Dobbs opened their 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,” according to the Dobbses. “We develop our stores with a respect for the surroundings and with an intent to build community.”
Freedom of Espresso is contracting to lease the Liverpool space from building owner JGB Properties, which is in the process of renovating the Italianate-style structure first built about 1863.
Speaking at the March 22 meeting of the Liverpool Village Planning Board, JGB’s Christine Stevens, the project director, estimated that FOE could be steaming cappuccino here as early as August. Its daily hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., she said.
FOE roasts its own coffee beans and specializes in espresso but also sells a few single-origin coffees such as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. The Dobbs’ enterprise faces stiff competition from national chains such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, but FOE’s commitment to quality has kept it afloat for 15 years, and it’s still growing.
Last year, JGB and the village received a Restore NY grant for more than $882,000 to renovate the historic structure which will house nine apartments on the second and third floors.
At the March 22 planning board meeting, neighbor Mary Rea of 204 Brow St., expressed concern over possible parking problems along First Street, which abuts her backyard driveway. Rea showed the planners photographs of vehicles, apparently owned by customers of the Cobblestone Tavern, blocking her driveway.
Stevens said 80 percent of FOE’s customers park briefly, buy their coffee to go and “leave immediately.” JGB has been in contact with Rea about the ongoing renovation, she said.
“We’ll do whatever we can do to resolve this issue,” Stevens said.
Liverpool Codes-Enforcement Officer Bill Reagan suggested increasing “Tow-Away Zone” signage at Rea’s property backed up by police enforcement.
Mayor Gary White, who was present at the March 22 meeting at the Village Hall, assured Rea that, “there’s some remedy here someplace for resident access to the driveway.”
Deputy Mayor Nick Kochan, who also attended, agreed. “This is an enforcement situation that’s well within the village’s control,” he said.
First Street neighbors Bob Bradt and Rick Merritt each urged cooperation. Bradt, of 417 First St., said, “It’s time to live in harmony as the business district meets the residential neighborhood.”
Kochan, who helmed the committees that created Liverpool’s Comprehensive Plan, said Freedom of Espresso’s plans fit perfectly with the village’s vision. “This is something we’ve long sought,” Kochan said, “and it could be a jumpstart to a more productive use of First Street. And we’re not alone. The Restore NY grant shows that the state believes in this too. We’ve got to keep the big picture in mind.”
Eagle Newspapers file photo attached.