Home Columns DOT'S DOWNTOWN BEAT (column): Coffee Talk

DOT'S DOWNTOWN BEAT (column): Coffee Talk

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The front table at Coffee Corner. Photo by Dot Helling.
The front table at Coffee Corner. Photo by Dot Helling.

by Dot Helling-

As I float through Montpelier I find little-known activities taking place in nooks and crannies around this diverse city. Today I want to focus on the Coffee Corner. Everyone knows this breakfast-and-lunch nook as a meeting place for business and politics as well as good food and socializing. The daily gang at the “Coffee Corner Front Table” began as a group of opinionated Republican men, then expanded to its current diversity in gender, political affiliation, and age thanks to the recruiting efforts of Lola Aiken. Lola wanted to mix it up, and so she did. Her memory is reflected and honored as part of the Coffee Corner décor. But more than eating and politicking goes on at the Coffee Corner.

Mondays are what I call “my omelet morning.” The Monday breakfast chef is Heather Boardman. She delivers a special omelet I can’t resist made with leftovers, such as Jarlsberg cheese, tofu, asparagus or broccoli and onion for the vegetarians, and shaved steak, chicken, sausage, turkey, or meatloaf for the carnivores. Heather will turn leftover omelet ingredients into a yummy breakfast wrap if requested. The accompanying home fries are famous, and the coffee is bottomless.

Thursdays are music mornings. Between 7:30 and 9 a.m. music is provided — free of charge — by fiddler Susan Reid and guitarist Leeds Brewer. Regulars and newcomers to the restaurant are entertained by their talent and contradance tunes, or whatever else comes to their minds. Often joining these two are guitarist Glenn Howland, fiddler David Kaynor, and accordionist Rick Winston. Patrons tap their feet and start their days with ear-to-ear smiles and content bellies.

Glenn Howland on guitar and Rick Winston on accordion, a vintage red  Ferrari. Photo by Dot Helling.
Glenn Howland on guitar and Rick Winston on accordion, a vintage red Ferrari. Photo by Dot Helling.

Fridays dawn, literally, with storyteller Willem Lange’s group taking over the front table. This group moved here when the River Run in Plainfield closed several years ago. In addition to Willem, the group regularly includes birdman Bryan Pfeiffer, naturalist Charles Johnson, housing experts Larry Mires and Ethan Parke, information technology guys Claude Stone and Dennis White, and sometimes Louise Menard as their morale officer. It’s been a closed group, but it is easy to crash or just eavesdrop or chuckle with them.

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Other “goings on” at the Coffee Corner include rotating artist exhibits, meals for those tending the downtown flower planters and the July 4 buntings, and an annual Christmas party for local kids, which is standing room only. Event ideas are welcome. Just seek out owners Mike Raymond and Sean Ward to schedule your kind of gathering.