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Published: Wednesday, 1/21/2009

Celebrators jam Toledo coffee house

BY STEVE EDER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Downtown Latte bustled with campaign workers last year as staff from the neighboring Barack Obama headquarters stopped in for coffee, lunch, and conversation.

"They basically lived here," said Connie Dick, a co-owner of the coffee shop and cafe on St. Clair Street.

Yesterday, Downtown Latte transformed into a gathering place for former campaign staff, Obama supporters, and other patrons as Mr. Obama was sworn in as the nation's 44th President.

Every seat and table at the downtown coffee shop and cafe was occupied as people zeroed in on the new President's every word.

Some waved American flags, others roared with cheers, and all of the 40 or so patrons stood for the singing of the national anthem.

"It is historical," said Marcia Brown, a downtown patron who met with friends and her sister at Downtown Latte.

Ms. Brown, who waved a small American flag during Mr. Obama's inauguration ceremony, said: "It is beautiful and amazing. He brings new hope to a lot of people; he has the ability to unite a lot of people in this country."

Zak Vassar, 29, said inauguration day featured "a feeling of hope."

"This is going to be a real change, just a different way of doing business in Washington," Mr. Vassar said.

Fran Krompak, 68, who worked on Mr. Obama's primary campaign, watched the inaugural ceremony with friends at Downtown Latte.

"I wouldn't have missed it for the world," Ms. Krompak said.

Linda Schlachter, 65, said she viewed Mr. Obama's address as a "call to action."

"He said the government will do its part, but we have to do our part also," Ms. Schlachter said.

She added, "We've seen a lot of elections and a lot of inaugurations, but I've never seen the excitement that I've seen today."

Ms. Dick said she enjoyed watching her business as it was "swept up" in the campaign spirit last year.

As an Obama supporter, she's confident that he'll do what it takes to fix the economy - something she hopes will help business owners like herself.

"Our hope is he'll turn the economy around because we are small business owners and we want to survive," Ms. Dick said.



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