Local coffeehouse capitalizes on home-like atmosphereWritten by Aya Khalil | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Java lovers continue to patronize coffee shops in hard economic times; they just savor it a little bit more.
The customers are buying smaller cups of coffee, said Kristine El Gamel, owner of Brewed Awakenings, 2636 W. Central Ave. She said corporate competitors make it challenging for Brewed Awakenings, too, which tries to attract customers with its free Wi-Fi and 25 varieties of coffee.
“We are a coffeehouse … not a mass production. It’s like a community here.”
El Gamel and her husband, Sabry, bought the coffeehouse two and half years ago, although it has been open for 13 years.
“This is a homey atmosphere here where people feel comfortable,” El Gamel said. “We know them on a first-name basis.”
The coffeehouse has three employees, in addition to El Gamel and her husband.
“Smaller staff is actually an asset,” said employee Caroline Gauger. “Each person who works here gets to know each aspect of what they’re doing and ensure the quality of service, and people respond to this. I love the work, knowing people, seeing friendly faces and being able to make food and make the drinks.”
On the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, poetry readings are from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. On the first and third Wednesday of every month, Patrick McGee hosts an open mic.
Every Monday night, a psychic comes to the coffeehouse from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. The cost is $5 for a five-minute read and $10 for 15 minutes. Monday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30, moms and their babies are invited to play music, stretch, watch puppet shows and face paint with Risa Cohen, a children’s educator and entertainer. The price is $5.
The coffeehouse also features a photo gallery every few weeks. Gary Mayberry’s nature photography is on sale now.
Although many come to the coffeehouse to hang out, others come in to study, read or get work done, El Gamel said. The coffeehouse offers continental breakfast items like bagels, croissants and cereals, although people are buying less food these days because of the economy, she said. For lunch and dinner, the coffeehouse features sandwiches, salads, grape leaves and homemade hummus. Sandwiches are usually $5.25; salads start at $5.25, and grape leaves and hummus range in price from $5.59 to $7.89. Coffee, decaf, skim or iced drinks are $1.35 to $3.49. Tea, lattes, hot chocolate and smoothies are also on the menu, starting at $1.89.
The most popular items are the hot chicken sub sandwiches, café mochas and hot caramel cream and Snickers coffees, El Gamel said. Keith Agdanowski comes to the coffeehouse when he’s in the area because of the coffee.
“It’s a lovely owned business,” he said. “One thing is the access to Wi-Fi, the environment, friendly staff and good coffee.”
“Local artists are presenting work here, and it’s in the heart of west Toledo,” said Gauger, a UT student. “It’s a good representation of the area, a local flavor. The prices are reasonable; the sandwiches are filling, and everything is fresh.”