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Out & About: Coffee with Dream

I just returned from New York City, where there’s a coffee shop on every corner. Unfortunately for me—a lover of quirkiness—that coffee shop is usually a Starbucks. Once trendy, Starbucks now feels corporate, the opposite of the vibe it created when it helped pioneer the public coffee-consumption movement. But its “corporateness” has made it possible for independents to truly shine in the space—creating a neighborhood hangout for coffee sippers, go-to meeting spots and home offices away from home and more importantly, away from office. 

As an example of a local coffee place roasting on all cylinders, I offer Vicinity Coffee, with locations in the Carag and Kingfield neighborhoods. The two-unit chain recently changed its name from Bull Run Coffee Bar to Vicinity Coffee to better reflect who they are. Here are just a few of the physical trappings that make for a memorable experience, in addition, of course, to friendly, knowledgeable staff, home-baked pastries (not prepackaged, warm up in a microwave fare), and, yes, signature coffee drinks.


Graphics, inside or outside, are a
calling card for restaurants, but
especially neighborhood coffee
shops because they are a hint of
the establishment’s personality. 
The graphic on the side wall of
Vicinity Coffee on Lyndale Avenue
welcomes the neighborhood into a funky, laid-back space.

Having storage in a restroom can
be an eyesore, but if you have a
surprise element, such as this great
tile artwork in what was once an old
shower stall, all is forgiven. 

A tip jar with a sense of humor
never hurts, and if you can tip while smiling, all the better for the tipee. 


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