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Former Lawrence barista to open coffee shop in East Lawrence; an update on battling bedbugs


I have my best Nostradamus outfit on, and I declare that this will be the Decade of East Lawrence. No, my powers to divine the future haven't suddenly improved. I just know that there is a new coffee shop opening in East Lawrence, and its name will be Decade. (As for the Nostradamus outfit, it is the only thing that wasn't in the laundry.)

As we've been reporting for months, the folks at the Lawrence construction firm Struct/Restruct want to convert their shop space at 920 Delaware St. into a coffee shop. Well, now they have found the tenant to do that. Louis Wigen-Toccalino has signed a lease to convert the approximately 900-square-foot industrial building into a coffee shop.

I'm not sure which decade it will most resemble, but Wigen-Toccalino does want to promote one element that was more common in years past: Face-to-face conversation.

"We are going to do things a little differently," said Wigen-Toccalino. "We're not going to offer WiFi, for example. I want it to be a social space where people can come and hang out in groups instead of it being like a study hall environment."

Of course, he also wants it to be about good coffee. Wigen-Toccalino will bring in artisan coffee beans from Fourbarrell, a speciality coffee roaster in San Francisco. The company touts itself as using an old German coffee roaster that shuns modern roasting technology for a more craftsman approach. The company also has a big social justice movement where it deals directly with coffee growers in countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Columbia, Guatemala and El Salvador.

Wigen-Toccalino said the shop will feature a variety of espresso, French press, and pour-over brews on its menu. He's also finalizing an agreement with a local bakery that will provide a variety of daily pastries and breads. Eventually, he hopes to add soups, salads and sandwiches to the menu as well. The shop, which will include a large outdoor deck, is expected to open this spring, perhaps as early as March.

Wigen-Toccalino has a long history in the food business, and some of you local coffee fans may recognize his face. About 10 years ago, he served as a barista at Henry's, the downtown Lawrence coffee shop. Since then, he's spent time in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, working as a cook and a server, with the idea of saving enough money to come back to Lawrence to open his own establishment.

Setting up shop in East Lawrence, he said, seems like a good move. For those of you trying to picture the location, the building is just north of Hobbs Park on Delaware Street, and near the edge of the headquarters for Allen Press. Importantly, it is just a block away from the Poehler Lofts building and the Warehouse Arts District that has grown up around that multistory, historic apartment building.

"I'm really excited about what they are doing with the warehouse arts district," Wigen-Toccalino said. "I think it is an up and coming neighborhood with a lot of potential in the near term. I'm really excited to be a part of that."

Plus, Wigen-Toccalino is keeping an eye on City Hall plans to build a new hike-and-bike trail through the area. As we've previously reported, commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday evening will apply for a state grant that would build a new trail from Hobbs Park, through East Lawrence, into downtown and ending near the Kansas River. That trail would go right by the new coffee shop.

And while I don't have anything confirmed yet, I've been told that the guys at Struct/Restruct are working on bringing a bicycle shop into the neighborhood, in the building directly south of the 920 Delaware building.

But that's not all that is going on in the neighborhood. If you remember, the group that developed the Poehler building also has plans to build another approximately 40-unit, loft-style apartment building near the site of the Poehler building. The development group also announced plans to try to bring a bistro and drinking establishment into a small building next to the Poehler Lofts. I haven't heard an update on that in awhile, but I'll check in and report back to you.

So, who knows, maybe this will be the Decade of East Lawrence.

What I do know is why Nostradamus made so many brash predictions: This outfit is itchy in all the wrong places.

In other news and notes from around town:

• At least, I hope it is the outfit causing this itching, and not bedbugs. If you recall, city commissioners last year had a discussion about the increasing problem of bed bugs in the city. Back in June, commissioners directed staff to create a new policy on how landlords and hotel/motel operators must deal with bedbug infestations. Commissioners at their meeting on Tuesday will consider approving the policy. Here's a look at some of the key provisions.

— Hotel and motels operators who receive a bedbug complaint must respond to the complaint immediately by relocating the guests. Landlords have 48 hours to respond to a complaint from a tenant.

— Both landlords and hotel/motel operators must have a licensed exterminator on the property within 72 hours of receiving a bedbug complaint.

— In addition to the living unit where the bedbug complaint occurred, any unit that shares a wall with that living unit must also be inspected for bedbugs. In other words, if one apartment is found to have bedbugs, the next-door apartments also must be inspected for bedbugs.

— Generally, tenants and property managers won't be allowed to remove items from a room suspected of having bedbugs until after the room has been treated. Clothes removed from the unit will be required to be immediately washed and dried with high heat.

— Property owners or property managers will be required to keep a written record of all bedbug complaints, and documentation of treatments from licensed exterminators. Under the proposed policy, property owners will have to turn those records over to the city when requested to do so.

— Property owners and managers will be encouraged to develop a training program for their employees on how to spot signs of bedbugs and how to prevent infestations.

The bedbug policy will be part of the city's property maintenance code, which means if landlords and hotel/motel operators don't follow through on the treatments and other requirements, they can be fined for violating the city's code. Fines for violating the property maintenance code are rare, but they can be as high as $500 per day.

• Also on the City Commission's agenda is approval of a site plan for a new workshop for Struct/Restruct. As we mentioned above, the company's workshop on Delaware street is being converted into a coffee shop. As previously reported, Struct/Restruct is planning to convert the building that formerly housed the 12th and Haskell Recycling Center into a workshop. (The recycling center moved to a spot near 11th and Haskell.) Struct/Restruct also has plans to redevelop the eastern part of that former salvage yard site into a unique single-family housing development. But Tuesday's action by city commissioners deals only with the workshop portion of the project. City staff members are recommending approval of the workshop site plan.

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