New cafe in Carroll Co. aims to perk up the city

Main Street coffeehouse also to donate to charities

July 14, 2002|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Westminster's Main Street is about to get a java jolt.

The Pour House Cafe is ready to serve a cuppa joe in a colorful, family-friendly environment. It's wired for the Web, it's a gallery for local artists and the owners plan to share some of their proceeds with local charities.

"It'll make a distinct impact on this community," said Sandy Oxx, head of the Carroll County Arts Council, one of the organizations that is to benefit from donations from the coffee shop, scheduled to celebrate its grand opening today. "We just don't have nooks and crannies you often find in more urban areas that add to the quality of life."

Oh, and owner Janet Hollinger promises to brew a mean cup of coffee, too.

"Everything we do is a work of art, whether it's something we're selling or something you're pouring into your cup," Hollinger said. "One of the things I decided was that there was no place that was super-child friendly, that offered over-the-counter healthy food and a place to sit down and have a great cup of coffee," she said.

Hollinger and her husband Scott researched coffeehouses in Maryland, Virginia and Washington this year to get ideas on how their business would work. In March, they started converting the circa-1875 house at 233 E. Main St. - which they've owned for three years - into a coffeehouse. Previously the space was used for Hollinger's marketing firm, which she's closed to pursue her dream of running a cafe.

The Hollingers painted to add bright hues of green, yellow and red to the walls. Janet Hollinger also painted the tabletops. Customers settling into cushy chairs in the living-room setting of the main dining area will be surrounded by a variety of artwork, most of it local and for sale.

With high-speed Internet hookups, patrons will be able to sip and surf the Internet at the same time - for a fee - at three iMac computer terminals.

The Pour House menu will feature four flavors of coffee a day; specialty drinks such as mocha lattes, cappuccino and Italian sodas; light sandwiches without chips on the side (reinforcing the healthy perspective of the owners); whole-leaf teabags; and fresh pastries. Java cup jackets will do double duty as frequent-customer cards to encourage recycling.

Patrons will be able to buy six different kinds of whole beans to brew at home. The cafe sells Fair Trade coffee, which guarantees private coffee growers a fair price for their harvest.

Pint-size patrons can sit in a section dubbed the Man in the Moon Cafe by Hollinger's 7-year-old daughter, Ferris.

Every weekday, the cafe will contribute 2 percent of its profits to a different charity. Hollingersaid she has a soft spot for nonprofit organizations that have to compete for money.

"It's tough out there," she said. "We're all tired of spending our money and not making a difference."

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