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Coffee Crisis

Side Dishes: Speeder & Earl's gets a flood of support



Last Thursday, an early-bird staffer who showed up for a shift at the Pine Street Speeder & Earl's got a little more liquid than she bargained for. According to co-owner Jessica Workman, when the employee arrived, "water was pouring out the back of the building . . . the warehouse was covered in 8 inches of water and fine, fine clay."

Like the recent fire at Smokejacks, which a sign outside the restaurant blames on a discarded cigarette butt, the S&E flood was not an "act of God." It was the result of a broken water main, one of three that sprang leaks around 4 a.m. that morning. "The City pretty much came forward and said, 'Oops, operator error,'" Workman explains.

The java suppliers lost a bunch of coffee they had set aside for the holidays, including ultra-expensive Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain. While the Kona can be replaced, Workman says getting her hands on more JBM will be nearly impossible. "The last two years we couldn't even get it," she laments. "Japan has been coming in and buying all of it."

But regardless of whether insurance covers the damages, including the cost of replacement beans, Workman is confident the buzz biz will make it. Speeder's re-opened on Saturday, just two days after the incident. "I hate being closed, because our customers rely on us," Workman says. "We only close four days a year."

Workman credits the "enthusiastic offers of help" for the speedy resurrection. They came from "People we do business with, people we don't do business with, people who came in to get a cup of coffee . . . It was heartwarming to realize people cared so much," she enthuses.

While Workman wasn't surprised when her friends at Great Harvest offered assistance and caffeine for the cleaning crew, she was startled by a phone call from the Sodexho staff at the University of Vermont. "They weren't calling because they needed their coffee. They were calling to let us know that they have warehouse space and equipment," she explains, sounding surprised that the multinational food-service corp was so eager to offer a helping hand. "It makes me happy to live in a place like Burlington."

Speaking of Speeder's and Sodexho, there's a new place to get pastries and locally roasted joe on the UVM campus. As of last week, there's a self-serve coffee and pastry station in the lobby of the Robert Hull Fleming Museum. Treats include college campus staples such as Rice Krispies squares, muffins and brownies.

But when it comes to the possibility of muffin crumbs on the mummy, the docents are taking a hard line: They "don't allow food and drink past the gallery doors," explains Business Manager Stephanie Glock.