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Published: Thursday, 2/28/2008

Courthouse coffee shop packs it up for good

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Coffee shop operator Jeannie Anderson-Snyder of Point Place receives encouragement from Toledo's Chris Mercer, right, on the last day for Jeannie's Coffee Shop in the Lucas County Courthouse. Ms. Anderson-Snyder closed the snack bar because she has more customers at a snack shop in Government Center. Coffee shop operator Jeannie Anderson-Snyder of Point Place receives encouragement from Toledo's Chris Mercer, right, on the last day for Jeannie's Coffee Shop in the Lucas County Courthouse. Ms. Anderson-Snyder closed the snack bar because she has more customers at a snack shop in Government Center.
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Say what you want about slow-moving wheels of justice.

The indisputable truth for many working inside the Lucas County Courthouse is that certain days prove so hectic there's barely time for lunch.

"In our business, there are those occasional binds when we may only have a few minutes to grab something," said Doug Ackerman, a court reporter. "Last week, twice I only had five minutes for lunch."

Yet somehow there was always enough time to stop by Jeannie's Coffee Shop on the building's ground floor for its renowned $2.75 homemade egg salad sandwich or 60-cent cup of coffee.

The wood-framed shack served fresh food and coffee to generations of courthouse employees and visitors for close to 50 years.

Yesterday at 3 p.m., the coffee shop closed for good.

It is to be dismantled tomorrow and replaced next month by vending machines.

"I'm not even going to show up on Friday when they demolish it because I'll cry for sure," said Jeannie Anderson-Snyder, of Point Place, who started operating the shop in 1993.

Only memories remain of the courthouse snack shop, which will be dismantled tomorrow and replaced next month by vending machines. Only memories remain of the courthouse snack shop, which will be dismantled tomorrow and replaced next month by vending machines.
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Since November, she also has run the snack shop across the street inside Government Center.

With more area restaurants delivering these days, snack-shop business inside the courthouse has dwindled.

"Everybody is so friendly. We really hate to leave," said Ms. Anderson-Snyder, who is legally blind. "But there are a lot more people in Government Center, so I had to go where I can make money."

The courthouse shop is owned by the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, and managed by its business enterprise program for providing employment and managerial jobs for the visually impaired. It is known nationally as the Randolph-Sheppard program.

The commission decided to close Jeannie's Coffee Shop after Ms. Anderson-Snyder left because bringing in a new operator would have entailed the mandatory installation of several new sinks in the shack as well as electrical upgrades, said Sue Crawford, the commission's business enterprise specialist.

The business was grandfathered from newer health and building codes while under Ms. Anderson-Snyder's operation.

"It's not up to code with the health department, and there's just no way we can get it up to code," Ms. Crawford said.

Ms. Anderson-Snyder yesterday spent the final hours of her courthouse working days exchanging hugs with longtime customers.

"Sad day, sad day," said Tony Bender, 58, a private-practice criminal attorney who for the 15 years has gotten coffee from the courthouse shack. "There's going to be a lot of people upset."

Eric Zatko is one such person.

A big fan of Jeannie's salads, sandwiches, and lunch wraps, his final purchase yesterday afternoon was a bag of animal crackers.

"I bought lunch here almost every day. The last couple of years I was as regular as they get," said Mr. Zatko, a technology project manager. "Even if it is the exact same sandwich, I just can't imagine buying it out of a machine."

And neither can Mr. Ackerman, who said he values shop counter camaraderie as much as convenience.

"They're just a great group of people and we hate to see them go."

Later on, Bruce Sorg, a county assistant prosecutor, put an arm around Ms. Anderson-Snyder and delivered his own opinion on the matter of the closing for good.

"I think a judge should have gotten an injunction and kept you here," he said with a smile. "We're gonna miss ya."

Contact JC Reindl at: jreindl@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.



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