You wouldn't think that a new convenience store on Ritchie Highway, of all places, would cause such a commotion. I mean, Ritchie Highway?We're talking block after block of fast-food joints and quick markets.
But when Claire's Coffee Shop opened at The Horizons office complex in Pasadena this week, workers from all sorts of businesses in the building went temporarily crazy with joy.
"The whole place has been acting silly today," said owner Claire Kwiatkowski on Monday, as a half-dozen adults crowded her shop, exclaiming like children at the sight of candy and doughnuts.
"We've gotten everything but a group cheer. You'd think they'd never eaten."
But it wasn't just the real food, not even the fresh salads and chicken sandwiches, explained eager customers. It was all the other stuff -- chewing gum, magazines and cigarettes, pantyhose and aspirin andwonder of wonders, Popsicles.
"Look, chocolate Popsicles. And fruit ones!" squealed one colleague.
"This is about the biggest thingI can remember since McDonald's opened down on the Shore near my parents' house," jested Chris Guy, a 38-year-old Anne Arundel County Suneditor.
All this for a place where you can't even sit down.
However, as one of these ecstatic consumers, I did my part gushing overall the things for sale in our very own building.
It's not that we've never entered the hallowed portals of a 7-Eleven. Some of us do our grocery shopping there.
But here at this complex, there was nothing convenient for those in need of a quick snack or a cough drop, although two fine, full-scale restaurants are within walking distance. So desperate had some professionals become that they were frequenting a store that specializes in orthopedic devices, hunting for a candy bar.
But now -- freedom. Choice. We say goodbye to those too-long lunch treks in busy midday traffic. We disdain the uncaring soda machines that eat our money.
And we go, one and all, hog-wild for fun food.
By midafternoon, Arundel Sun reporter Elise Armacost -- a slender, well-bred woman -- was making her third trek of the day to the new store. By 4 p.m., she'd consumed a shrimp salad sub, a Coke, apiece of raspberry Chambord cheesecake and a piece of yellow cake Claire's offered free during its grand opening. But the new store was down there, chock full, waiting.
"I need a Popsicle," she moaned, as if calorie-deprived. Not two minutes later, she was biting into a Good Humor Supreme, a big chunk of vanilla ice cream encased in rich dark chocolate.
Yet another hour, and she was finishing a co-worker's carrot cake from the deli.
Said Dorothy Mills, who works at thePasadena Travel Center at The Horizons, "We've been watching them open. It's great -- coffee, sodas, a place to run and pick up a quick snack. No wonder people are happy."
But if customers weren't shocked by the hoopla, Claire herself was distinctly startled.
"We're very surprised at the response we've gotten," she said, above the din.
She had been seated in her doctor's office, opposite her new deli,months ago, when she saw the empty office space and got the idea fora coffee shop, Claire said.
With one day gone, she'd been busy all day, cutting coffee cakes, selling mounds of sandwiches and dispensing endless cups of gourmet coffee: hazelnut, Hawaiian Kona, Dutch chocolate.
"Everybody coming in here has said we're gonna do very well," she said. "They say they've been waiting for us a long time."
PIGEON SHOOT RILES RESIDENTS
Blam, blam, blam. The blasts shook Robert Hilker as he pulled up his driveway last Friday evening. Blam, blam, blam. After a hard week's work, the last thing he wanted was a racket.
Peering around the corner of his Arundel Gardens house, Hilker spied three men in blue overalls, pointing into the air over the Kanasco pharmaceutical plant. Blam, blam, blam. Their shotguns echoed throughout the mixed residential-industrial North County neighborhood.
Hilker and other Arundel Garden residents let their fingers do the talking: 9-1-1. And, shortly, the blasting stopped.
Who were these happy hunters? A police dispatcher said they were shooting pigeonsoff the plant's roof. They told Hilker they were hired by the penicillin manufacturer.
"When I come home from work, I don't need to hear those guns going off," said Hilker, whose backyard pool lies several hundred yards behind the Kanasco plant. "It makes me uncomfortable."
"Why is this million dollar factory worried about pigeons s------- on its roof anyway?" said Hilker. "What scares them to death about pigeons?"
Has he asked plant officials? "No," Hilker said, "the plant and I aren't getting along."
Residents, including Hilker, complained repeatedly this spring and summer that unsavory odors from the plant have irritated their eyes and throats. The county Departmentof Utilities shut off public sewerage to Kanasco's bathroom after someone flushed a milky white liquid containing a toxic industrial solvent into the sewer system June 23.