Requiem for a coffee shop

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Woke up this morning to terrible news: Swirl Coffee and Tea, the New Rochelle, N.Y. cafe where I wrote much of Showtime, is closed.

I hate being overly dramatic, but I’m heartbroken. When Swirl opened, oh, two years (or so) ago, I was one of the first customers. In fact, I may well have been the first customer. I’d heard about the possibility of the place for several months, but never truly believed it. Independent coffee shops don’t open too often, especially across the street from a Starbucks. But here was Swirl—and I was elated. So, on the opening morning, I walked from my house, opened the door and plopped down my material at the front window table. I was approached by Michael Kastner, the enthusiastic owner, who shook my hand and told me about his vision: Excellent coffee, laid-back atmosphere, higher quality than Starbucks. I was sold.

Why? Well, I love coffee shops. I love independent coffee shops. I love independent coffee shops owned by folks like Michael Kastner—guys with passion and oomph and a drive to make a place more than a place. And he lived up to his words. Swirl was terrific. There were outlets to spare. The coffee and coffee drinks were superb. My all-time favorite coffee shop, and a place where I spent hours upon hours upon hours.

And now, it’s gone.

I’m writing this in Starbucks. I hate Starbucks. It’s cold, it’s stale, it’s predictable.

Swirl offered something refreshing and new.

Sigh.

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