The old King of France Tavern is a wonderfully cozy place. Brick floors, stone walls, low ceilings, a double fireplace and a wooden bar polished to a high sheen - all tucked slightly below ground in the basement of Annapolis's wedge-shaped Maryland Inn.
And oh the stories that two-century-old space could tell! Of America's founding fathers hustling cards, of state legislators from the Colonial era to the Third Millennium striking deals over drinks, of music lovers coming to the hottest spot for jazz this side of New Orleans.
No wonder a local nose or two is out of joint at the thought of this historic place being taken over by the ubiquitous Starbucks. Back in the 1970s, Annapolis preservationists would take to the streets in protest of a fast-food chain in the historic district.
If this anti-chain prejudice can be put aside, however, a coffeehouse that leaves the tavern's features intact might be quite well suited to the space. Starbucks, which sells its super-size java at five other locations in Annapolis and 7,551 nationwide, has a good record of using historic buildings, resisting alterations and blending with existing dM-icor.
And right now, the legendary home of the Charlie Byrd Trio is sitting empty - as it has since the tavern closed in 2003. Local residents pine for another music and dance spot at the site, but no one has proposed one.
Some problems remain before the coffeehouse can be approved. Architects must figure out how to make the basement space accessible to wheelchairs without damaging the historic faM-gade or structure. The Annapolis historic preservation commission must also approve exterior signs.
But if the Seattle-based coffee company agrees to take on a tasteful Annapolis flavor, it may well brew up a popular attraction.