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New East Lawrence coffee shop opens; annual report shows homeless shelter served more than 800 in 2013
Oh my, if you thought East Lawrence was funky already, just wait until you see it after it has had a double espresso.
We reported in February that plans were in the works for a new coffee shop in the heart of East Lawrence, and now they've become reality. Decade has opened at 920 Delaware St. in a small industrial building that once used to house an ice plant.
"I love the space," said owner Louis Wigen-Toccalino. "It is nice and open with lots of natural light. It is a reclaimed building and it has a lot of reclaimed lumber in it. We've used old barn wood for the countertops."
If you are having a hard time picturing the location, it is right along the west edge of the Allen Press printing plant, which is right next to Hobbs Park. See below for a photo of the space.
The business opened last week but is having its grand opening on Saturday. The coffee shop features beans roasted by the specialty San Francisco-based roaster Fourbarrell, and it sells pastries made by The Merc. Wigen-Toccalino said he plans to expand into soups and sandwiches in the next couple of months.
Wigen-Toccalino is a former barista at Henry's, the downtown Lawrence coffee shop. Henry's was the first food-service job Wigen-Toccalino ever had, and that was 10 years ago. He spent the next decade working at a variety of coffee shops and restaurants in places such as San Francisco and Salt Lake City, with the goal of finding the right opportunity to open his own shop. It took him a decade to find it, thus the name Decade for his new business.
It may be fitting in other ways. This may end up being one of the more important decades for East Lawrence. In recent years, the area has seen a boom in redevelopment, led by the Poehler Lofts building, which is about a block north of the coffee shop. The redevelopment of the four-story Poehler building helped spur the creation of the adjacent Warehouse Arts District, which includes the Cider Gallery, a new art gallery and event space.
As we previously have reported, the area around the Poehler building isn't done developing yet. The same group that rehabilitated the Poehler building also won approval to built another approximately 40-unit loft style apartment building near the site of the Poehler. I'm hoping to get renderings of that building in the coming days. Look for work to begin soon at the site. I spoke briefly with the lead developer, and he said he expects to break ground in the next two weeks. He also told me he's made progress in finding a tenant to open a new food and drink establishment in a smaller space next to the Poehler building. So, hopefully soon I'll have an update for you on that project.
In addition, I'm checking out a rumor of a neighborhood-style bakery that may be opening near the 19th Street corridor in eastern Lawrence. I'm still trying to gather details on that one, but certainly there is a lot going on in the area.
It will be interesting to watch if other development plans also emerge. There are some prime redevelopment candidates still left in East Lawrence. The one I occasionally hear talk about is the Black Hills Energy maintenance yard, which is right across the street from the Poehler building. I don't think anything is imminent, but it will be interesting to see if the natural gas company continues to hold onto the property if the surrounding area continues to develop into an arts district/urban neighborhood.
As for the coffee shop, Wigen-Toccalino said there clearly is some pent-up demand for local, neighborhood-oriented businesses.
"We have been open a week, and already we feel like it has been here 10 years," Wigen-Toccalino said. "The residents have been so inviting. We've had lots of artists, lots of residents, lots of workers in the area come in."
Decade is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
In other news and notes from around town:
• As we recently reported, the Lawrence Community Shelter has hired a new director to replacing retiring director Loring Henderson. Well, Henderson also recently submitted the homeless shelter's annual report to the city, and it shows the shelter continues to be a busy place. Here's a look at some of the numbers for 2013:
— The shelter served 672 new people in 2013, which was up from 665 in 2012.
— When you add existing guests into the mix, the shelter, which has the capacity to sleep 125 people per night, provided service to 836 individuals. That's up from 815 in 2012.
— The shelter served 78 families, which included 102 adults and 142 children. Those numbers are roughly double the 2012 totals.
— 254 guests moved into permanent housing during the year, 97 guests started permanent jobs, and 42 applied for disability assistance.
— On the health front, 23 guests entered substance abuse programs, 59 received treatment at the emergency room, 79 received a mental health assessment or treatment, and 847 prescriptions were filled through the shelter's prescription assistance program.
— Demographically, 62 percent of the guests were male, 75 percent were between the ages of 18 and 60, and 74 percent were white.
— Financially, the shelter reported operating expenses of $933,628 for the year. It finished the year with $100,741 in operating cash. The shelter received 35 percent of its funding from government sources, with 14 percent from the city, 8 percent from the county and 13 percent from the federal government. The remaining funds: 36 percent from private donations; 7 percent from the United Way; 6 percent from foundations; 12 percent from fundraisers; and 4 percent from the shelter's Good Dog! program, which sells dog treats and pet supplies that are manufactured by shelter guests.