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New coffee shop opens on Courthouse Square

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By Alice Du Pont

Tricia Collins, former Gadsden Arts Center executive director, always loved the way New York City's arts community often teamed up with small coffee houses to expose the world to artists while customers enjoyed a light meal. It was an idea that she pitched to the center’s board of directors several years ago when the men's clothing store adjacent to the art center packed up and moved out.

"She thought the location was perfect but I wasn't interested. I was tired I didn't want another restaurant,” said Helen Hurst as she took a moment to reflect Friday afternoon after nearly 50 friends and family members stopped by to sample a cup of her specialty coffees.

"I see this as more of a service to the community and to the art center. The Gadsden Arts Center is on the Florida Arts Trail and upwards of 10,000 people visit each year. These visitors had no place to get a cup of coffee or a light meal. We're here to fill that void," Hurst said.

The other aim is to provide another avenue the showcase art. The walls will, hopefully starting in late February, be adorned with original art work that is for sale.

The limited sandwich menu will consist of roast beef, turkey club and reuben sandwiches. Hurst is also offering what she describes as "substantial” salads, soups and light desserts. The small cafe also has an extensive coffee and tea menu. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. The cafe will be closed on Sunday.

Her plans include afternoon teas as well as monthly high tea in the community room on the second floor of the art center. Emily Burdick, 15, settled into one of several comfortable upholstered chairs with a book.

"It's pretty. I love the atmosphere. It's cozy and I love coffee," she said.

"This is what we want for our downtown. We want to attract businesses that will attract people. This is good for the community," said Quincy City Manager Jack McLean.

"It's this beautiful? It looks like we took it out of a major city," said Community Redevelopment Agency Director Charles Hayes. The CRA was instrumental in providing funds to help make roof repairs and other structural repairs.

Hurst beamed when she talked about the hard work that Wanda Zubr put into decorating the cafe.

"She did all of this for free. It's marvelous. There were a lot of people who wanted to see this cafe open," Hurst said.

She herself has volunteered more hours over the years that she can even count buying, preparing and serving food free of charge at many opening nights at the art center.

"She's a giver," said former school superintendent Robert Bryant, who said he isn't a coffee drinker, but always enjoys a good cup of tea.