Almost 10 years ago, I was living in New Orleans, participating in an AmeriCorps program in the Disaster Services department of the American Red Cross. I was poor, bored, and not into the drunken debauchery of the French Quarter. After a couple weeks of visiting different coffeeshops around town, I found Neutral Ground. It was a little bohemian hole-in-the-wall with mediocre coffee and snacks, but an incredible atmosphere. It was dark and sometime smokey, but full of funky college kids and artists. Books and board games were available if you were bored. But most people prefered to sit on one of the comfy couches to enjoy the music. I usually parked at the coffeebar and chatted with the manager and other customers. From the moment I walked in, I was treated like an old friend. That first night I went, I ended up staying until 2am talking with the manager and another volunteer* who worked there. Soon afterwards, I was assigned to help with disaster relief in Florida after a tropical storm. I was out of town for several weeks, but when I came back to town, I was greeted with "Hey! Where have you been?!" when I returned to Neutral Ground. Neutral Ground had live music nightly, but I found my niche with the Sunday evening "Open Mic Night" crowd. For the remainder of my year in New Orleans, I could be found at Neutral Ground almost every Sunday night.
I miss that place dearly. Since then, I've always wanted to own a funky little coffeeshop like Neutral Ground. A fun, comfortable place where people could just go and chill for hours. A place that showcased both local music and yummy desserts. However, most people who like yummy desserts also like yummy coffee. Wherein lies my problem. I don't drink coffee. I wouldn't know a cappucino from an espresso. Tim suggested being the anti-Starbucks and only serving black coffee, which would definitely make things easier for me, but I don't think people would go for it. There's a reason why Starbucks has been so successful. And since Coral and Duke have entered our lives, my dream coffeeshop has evolved over the years....I would love to have a dog-friendly establishment, but that opens a whole new can of worms with health code. So for now, my coffeeshop remains a distant dream. Unless you know coffee and are interested in a business partner. :)
*Neutral Ground was a "live music co-op." People volunteered their time rather than being paid.
7 hours ago