Coffee, tea or "Get the Fuck Out!"

My favorite coffee shop has been outed. Well, OK, it's not like no one knew it existed. But it wasn't overrun with customers. You could still go there on a Saturday morning and get a seat at a table by yourself - maybe even one of the good, big tables where you can spread all of your crap out and set up the laptop and take advantage of the free wi-fi. In fact, my last blog post was done there.

It's called Charmers, a sort-of dainty name for the converted coffeeshop in a spot that used to house a gay bar. Nice coffee, good selection, some decent food if you're hungry, big windows for people watching out on the street and a location that's not too obvious. Just the sort of place for a semi-social recluse like me.

But now they've been found out by Time Out Chicago magazine, a publication that is gaining in popularity wth the hip urban professionals around here. It was part of a cover story on the top non-chain coffee houses in Chicago by neighborhood. The top location in my Edgewater/Rogers Park area was a place called Metropolis, which is a great place for coffee (they roast it on premises) but, goddamn, that place is ALWAYS crowded. I've been there at 7 AM and it's crowded, noon and it's crowded. I've walked by at 5 p.m. and it's crowded. Sure the coffee's great, but what good is that if you can't sit down and enjoy it?

My second favorite place, Enuui Cafe in Rogers Park, has good coffee, but the wi-fi sucks. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, sometimes you have to sit in the right area of the room to get a signal, meaning you're moving from table to table with all your shit.

So I happened upon Charmers. OK, confession time. I didn't "happen" upon it, I found out about it through the same medium I now blame for it's possible demise. I read about it in a publication. Although, I think I did drive past it one time previously, but didn't really consider going in. The only thing I did was notice that the gay bar I used to see from the elevated train on the way to Evanston was gone. But it was featured in the food section of a local newspaper as part of the resurgence of businesses in the Jarvis Street area so I decided to check it out. After all, who the hell reads the food section, especially among the hip urbanites who are lining up at Soundbar to check out DJ Whatshisface? And since I had been familiar with the area for a long tie, I didn't consider myself a trend follower. I already new about the spot. I was just a regular customer who hadn't become regular... yet.

That's one of my secret fears, that people will think I'm one of the trendy crowd who get their ideas on where to go and what to do from magazines and newspapers, rather than thinking for myself or being an urban pioneer who scouts out spots based on a whim. I get a secret joy from point out to people, "Oh, yeah, I started going to that place a long time ago, before anybody else went there." (I managed to somehow ignore the fact that when I first went there, there were people inside so SOMEBODY had to know about it before me.)

But now Charmers has been exposed and I'm getting all provincial, as if they were supposed to lock the doors after I got there. "Nope, sorry folks. I know you read about it and it got great reviews and all that, but sorry... HE'S here now so that's it."

God, I'm such a closet snob.


Anonymous said...

The way I figure it, as long as you know you're not some poser who finds places for a caffeine fix based on magazines, there's not a problem. You can usually tell who the real regulars are in a coffee shop anyway.

Michael said...

I feel your pain, buddy! Time Out New York just did an article here on the best New York Pizzarias. I have to wait twice as long for my standard 2 plain slices from my favorite place now--which I take TO GO since there are never any seats anymore. :-(