Friday, January 30, 2015

@ Open Door Coffee Company in Hudson

This week's Hold The Coffee post features a coffee shop in a city that I haven't thought much of visiting up until recently-- the Akron suburb of Hudson.

Cass has a real future in modeling outside coffee shops, 
let me tell you.  ("Don't call people by their last names," says 
Matt, "This isn't gym class.  You might as well throw 
dodge balls at Andrew."
I am rarely excited over the idea of driving 50 minutes to sight-see an upper-middle class suburb, but Hudson's name has been buzzing in my mind's eye recently. It happens namely whenever I cover Concord Township for the News-Herald. After decades of rapid housing growth, leaders in the township of 18,200 people are trying to build a pedestrian-friendly town center on undeveloped land, and they want to model it after Hudson's First & Main.

As any good reporter, I wanted to investigate this downtown district Jan. 17. I took friend and colleague Andrew Cass with me on the road. Down in Hudson, we met up with three of my Kent State University friends: Katy Robinson, Rebecca Micco and Rosey Bower. (I know. How dare I mix work friends with college friends.)

And like any good reporter, I Googled "coffee shops in Hudson" before the trip, and found Open Door Coffee Company at the corner of Clinton and Main streets. The name is strangely close to Open Door Coffeehouse in Madison Village, but there's no relation. (I definitely didn't sense the presence of any Christian ministry there.)

My friend Micco, who is a language arts teacher for 
Youngstown schools, pointed me to the shop's
communal book swap area. She's just like my boyfriend,
who studied English at Ohio State: They can sniff out
books incredibly fast.
Location: Considering I dropped a 10 lb plate on my left big toe earlier that Saturday, My friends and I got a fair amount of sight seeing done at Hudson's First & Main. I was rather impressed with the neighborhood, which mixes Hudson's historic downtown buildings with new structures--mostly two-story buildings that try to fit with the area's architecture. Virtually all of the new builds are leased to either high-end retailers, restaurants or offices. It reminded me of the changes happening in downtown Kent--where new builds have almost overtaken the appearance of historic buildings.

Open Door Coffee is located inside a quaint,  two-story brick building on Main Street's historic strip. Without knowing anything about the building, I could tell it has some history. In fact, later I read Open Door Coffee's about webpage and learned that the building formerly housed a 90-year-old family drugstore.

Despite the massive parking deck separating Hudson's historic buildings along Main Street and its new builds to the west, Open Door still feels like it's in the middle of all the action,

The barista who took my order at the counter was
emotionally distraught when he became aware that
I wasn't ordering coffee to go and gave me a paper cup.
Finally, I've met someone who is as passionate about
using coffee mugs as much as I am.
Food and Beverage: Open Door Coffee offers the straight-forward menu I've come to expect at a coffee shop: blended drinks, teas, a variety of coffee roastings from light to dark, and baked goods that might hold you over until lunch.

That Saturday, I ordered 16 oz cup of medium-light roast with an oatmeal raisin cookie for $3 and change. Andrew ordered a 16 oz cup of medium roast with a chocolate chip cookie for the same price. I didn't take any notes on what Katy, Micco and Rosey ordered-- it was something like iced lattes and cappuccinos--stuff I order when I feel exceptionally adventurous. I don't analyze the taste of coffee, but its fair to say Andrew and I liked it so much, we returned to Open Door Coffee to pick up two more 16 oz cup's to go on our way back north.  ("Back north?  Are you trekking to Alaska?" asks Matt.)

Space and Atmosphere: Just like I imagined from the pictures, I fell in love with Open Door Coffee's space and it's oak-wood ambiance.

I shot this photo before storms of people began walking in.
Katy, who is a musician sometimes by night, and I took
immediate interest in the bangos and guitars decorated
above the counter.
Quite fittingly, the coffee shop shares some space with a picture frame business next door. (The two shops are connected to each other by a back hallway.)

Hudson isn't what I think of a farming community, but I very much enjoyed the artwork featuring sheep, cows and row crops that lined the wall behind the table where all five of us were sitting.

The whole shop was incredibly busy that Saturday, and most of its seating was occupied. Nevertheless, all five us were very comfortable just hanging out at Open Door Coffee, catching up on what's been going on in our lives and discussing the significance of what it means to be dating a man who is a homeowner.

As soon as our chit-chat-after-church reached one and a half hours, I interjected the conversation to suggest we should start touring around other parts of downtown before it gets too late. (My injured toe would later pay the price for that by suffering through two days of extreme soreness.)

I love the bar-counter area. Every coffee shop seemingly needs
a good bar counter.
Although Hudson First & Main is a pretty impressive place, nothing can beat a great coffee shop experience like the one I had at Open Door Coffee.

Luckily, I don't really need to tell that to the leaders of Concord Township. For as long as I've been covering the township, people there have been saying how desperate they are to have their own coffee shop.

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via email--shusted@news-herald.com--or on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

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