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Side Dishes: Onion City Gets a Java Joint

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Since the Blue Star Café closed its doors in December 2007, downtown Winooski has been without a coffee shop. That changes this Friday when the Block Gallery, which recently relocated to 1 East Allen Street, opens its petite coffeehouse. A grand opening will follow on Valentine’s Day weekend.

“The focus of the whole thing is to make it a community hub for artists,” says co-manager and musician Joe Adler. “We’ll have live music on Friday and Saturday; we’ll have a poetry night. One day a week we’ll do children’s story time.” The gallery’s 12 seats, plus “a few extra around the edges,” says Adler, share space with the paintings, pottery and jewelry on display.

The brews will start flowing at 7 a.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends. Initially, all the beans — and most of the tea leaves — will come from Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Company of Waterbury. Nearby Purple Shutter Herbs will provide a special herbal tisane blend. Muffins and croissants will hail from Klinger’s Bread Company. “We don’t do any cooking here,” says Adler. “We’ve talked to some local bakers and are looking into tapping into some of the different cultures here in Winooski ... getting some Moroccan pastries and a variety of stuff you wouldn’t find at other coffee shops.”

Both Adler and gallery founder Loraleh Harris say they have plenty of plans for the Block Gallery and Coffeehouse, some of which will take time to reach fruition. The drink menu, for example, will start with classic coffee and espresso drinks and expand as customers make requests and “we find out what people really want,” says Adler. For now, he and Harris are striking while the iron is hot: “We’ve had 10 to 15 people coming in a day and asking when we’re opening, so we decided we needed to open.”

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