Feb 162018

Cherry Espresso Bar (via Facebook)

Cherry Espresso Bar, the coffee shop that opened nearly two years ago in a former firehouse on Laurel Street, now hopes to become a full service restaurant with alcohol sales, according to documents filed with the city.

Lauren Fink, the owner of the coffee shop at 4877 Laurel Street, told neighbors in a letter that she would like to begin opening for dinner with wine.

“It has been my honor to join this community and create a space for people to enjoy and learn about what I love most — coffee,” Fink wrote. “I would like to complement our coffee offerings by providing the neighborhood with an opportunity for dinner, a glass of wine, dessert and, of course, espresso.”

The coffeeshop is currently open until 5 p.m. and has offered breakfast and lunch menu items such as sandwiches and salads. Dinner would be served from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, Fink says.

To begin serving dinner and alcohol, the property needs a change of its conditional use permit from Specialty Restaurant to Standard Restaurant, which requires City Council approval. The first public step in that process, a hearing before the City Planning Commission, is scheduled for March 27.

Fink met with neighbors in November to discuss her plans, and while the comments at the meeting were largely enthusiastic for her project, some wondered if the alcohol permit could allow a future owner to convert the space into a bar. Because that question was a common concern, Fink said she and the owners were exploring legal options to limit that possibility.

“We are looking into obtaining a good neighbor agreement, where the conditional use permit will apply only to Cherry,” Fink told one nearby resident in a subsequent email. “We have no desire to leave the neighborhood and are so happy to be a part of it.”

The former firehouse near the edge of Wisner Park received the rezoning to allow the coffee shop back in 2013, after owner Sylvi Beaumont bought it in a surplus-property auction. Its rezoning was the subject of some controversy at the time, but council members LaToya Cantrell and Stacy Head praised it for improving the walkability of the neighborhood.

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