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Library seeking partner to open coffee shop in new library space; as weather warms up, downtown events begin to pile up
A coffee shop in the new Lawrence Public Library: Maybe it could be called The Java Code, and the menu board could be written in a da Vinci-style code. Or maybe it could be called Mugs and Muggles, and the menu board could be written in Harry Potter-esque incantations. Or maybe it could be called 50 Shades of Black, and the menu board could be written in, well, uh, maybe there is a reason I'm not in the library coffee business.
But leaders of the Lawrence Public Library are looking for someone to be their coffee partner. When the library in July moves back to the expanded and refurbished library building at Seventh and Vermont streets, plans call for a privately operated coffee bar to be located in the main lobby of the building. Library leaders now have put out a request for proposals, hoping to find an experienced coffee operator.
As currently planned, the library will provide a couple of cafe tables, a built-in bar, a sink and a basic food preparation area. All this will be located right near the main entrance to the library. The big thing the library will provide, however, is foot traffic. Before its move, the library was attracting a little more than 40,000 visitors per month, and leaders expect that number to grow significantly in the new building. The other thing the library brings to the table is a policy that will allow snacks and drinks — with lids — to be consumed throughout the library.
As for the menu, the library is fine with a menu that includes a variety of drinks, as long as they are nonalcoholic.(How is anyone supposed to finish a "Twilight" novel with a nonalcoholic drink?) The RFP also says pastries and snacks can be sold at the coffee bar, but it does prohibit any type of grilling, frying and other cooking, except that which can be done with a microwave. (As Ron Popeil and three easy payments of $19.99 can attest, that really is no limitation at all.)
But if you are thinking of quitting your day job and starting a coffee shop in the library, you may want to think again — unless your day job is in the coffee business. The RFP states that the library committee only will consider proposals from people who have two or more years of continuous experience in the specialty coffee business or other such concessionaire experience.
The library is not asking for any specific rent amount for the space, but rather is requiring interested parties to state how much they would be willing to pay per month, either in the form of a flat fee or through a percentage of sales.
The library has set a deadline of May 2 to receive proposals. Ultimately, the library's board of directors will make the final decision on how to proceed. People interested in more information can see the library's complete RFP on its website.
In other news and notes from around town:
• The library yesterday gave you a date to circle on your calendar: July 26, which will be the opening day for the new library. Well, here are a few more that I've seen come through City Hall.
— Sports editor Tom Keegan already has profiled Friday's downtown shot put competition and how much fun that ought to be. But maybe next year it can be even more fun. How? Three words: Celebrity Shot Put Competition. (Wait, that's four words. Dang shot put.) Think of the possibilities. Charlie Weis versus Bill Self, Tom Keegan versus 6News sports director Kevin Romary, Mayor Mike Amyx versus Douglas County Commission Chair Nancy Thellman. Well, that one may not be fair (I'll let you determine who would have the advantage) but the possibilities are endless. I'm sure some charity could benefit from it, and surely there is a chiropractor who would sponsor it.
— May 10 the first Kansas Food Truck Festival will take place place on the portion of Pennsylvania Street from Eighth to Ninth streets in East Lawrence.
— May 30 a portion of the 900 block of New Hampshire Street will be closed to accommodate the Art Togeau parade and a street party that is part of the Final Friday arts event. The street party will include live music, vendors, games and some art demonstrations.
— June 27-29 the city's Tour of Lawrence bike races will return to downtown and the KU campus. The Street Sprint portion of the event will take place on the evening of Friday, June 27, on Vermont Street in downtown Lawrence. The multimile race will take place on and around the KU campus on Saturday, June 28. The fast-paced criterium racing will take place downtown on the morning of Sunday, June 29. The city is providing $10,000 in transient guest tax funds to support the event. Look for more details as the event nears.
— That will be a busy weekend for downtown because the Lawrence Arts Center and others will be hosting the Free State Arts Festival from June 25 to June 29. That event will involve several outdoor screenings of films, plus a couple of street parties in the 900 block of New Hampshire Street. The city is providing $20,000 in transient guest tax funds to support the event. Again, look for more details as the event gets closer.