A landmark at 100
La PORTE — One hundred years. A century. New owners J.D. and Jennifer Flynn are fully aware of the significance of that milestone for their business, Temple News Agency, and are committed to keeping the tradition of the legendary La Porte landmark going strong.
“It’s been around for 100 years and more than anything, we want to keep it going for many more,” said J.D. “It’s an honor to be part of this legacy.”
It all began in 1918 at the same location of 816 Jefferson Ave., except with the name of Chicago News Agency. More true to its name back then, it was a place where newspapers were dropped off and sold in town. Five years later, its name changed to La Porte Delivery System. Then, in 1931-32, the name changed to Temple News Agency.
Located within the Masonic Temple building, the business added candy and later turned into a general/convenience store. The 1980s saw the addition of a soda fountain and ice cream. Then, in the next decade, magazines and coffee were introduced. In March 1998, Temple News Agency expanded into an adjoining space. The business continued to evolve with entertainment provided by local musicians and Wi-Fi access for customers.
That Wi-Fi became the hook that drew J.D. in. A web developer for Genuine Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency headquartered in Boston, he started visiting Temple News Agency as a chance to get away from home distractions when he worked remotely.
“It became a second home to me. I became friends with the owner and other regulars,” he said.
At the time, the owner was Joseph Whicker. He purchased the business from Mike Sitar who had owned it since 1992.
When he found out that it might come available for purchase, J.D. “jumped at the opportunity,” he said
“This place has been 100 years in the community. Everybody in town has a Temple story,” he emphasized.
Jennifer was all in too.
“I’ve always wanted to own a coffee shop since I was a kid,” she said.
Jennifer works as a home health aid and she and J.D. have two children: 5-year-old Kaylee and 3-year-old Malcolm.
The Flynns decided to close the business from Aug. 7 until Sept. 1 to allow time for remodeling, general decluttering and building the stock back up. The entire space saw new paint and flooring along with a new countertop.
“Customers comment on the openness and how they didn’t realize how big it was. So far everyone seems to love what we’ve done,” J.D. said.
Temple News Agency saw a grand opening on Sept. 12 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony by the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce and free samples.
“It was a big turnout,” J.D. said. “The community has been behind us.”
“I can’t say enough about the support of the community and it’s a lot of fun,” Jennifer agreed.
That fun has carried over into involving the loyal locals.
The Flynns are polling their customers as they add two new flavors and “retire” two old ones out of the 13 they carry of super premium Sherman ice cream.
The two most popular flavors are Blue Moon and Cotton Candy Confetti; there’s also a rotating seasonal flavor. Currently, that’s Pumpkin Pie.
The Flynns decided to keep the Intelligentsia coffee, a rarity in the area, introduced by Whicker. Customers can enjoy a Flavor of the Day Coffee such as Cookie Butter Caramel, Jamaican Me Crazy, Sinful Delight or Pumpkin Crème Brulee. They also still offer the Red Eye, a regular coffee with a shot of espresso, and the pour over, a specialty brew created with a filter to gain the best extraction from the coffee beans. The Bravo, specific to Temple News Agency and introduced there in the ’90s, also remains; it’s an espresso milkshake containing cappuccino ice cream with two shots of espresso in place of milk.
Besides coffee and ice cream, the business also offers tea and select food items such as breakfast sandwiches, biscuits and gravy and bagels for breakfast. For lunch, there’s grilled cheese, hot ham and cheese and a chicken salad sandwich to choose from.
J.D. said he eventually wants to add more lunch specials and grab-and-go items to the menu.
The Flynns have carried on the tradition of Tuesday open jam sessions for musicians from 3 to 5 p.m. and have hopes to introduce more after hours. They’ve already begun to showcase books by local authors and want to display artwork from artists in the area too.
The new owners are excited about getting more involved within the community. Already this month, La Porte County Pokémon Go held a “Chikorita Community Day” with proceeds benefiting the La Porte County Small Animal Shelter.
Plans are also in the works for a special 100th Anniversary Celebration as the official anniversary for Temple News Agency is Nov. 11.
Most of all, the Flynns want the community to feel welcome at the downtown landmark so rich in history and memories.
“We want people to feel welcome and hang out,” J.D. said, adding there’s a bottomless mugs option at Temple. There’s even a collection of mugs left by the regulars for when they visit.
“People are welcome to set up shop – I did,” he said.
Hours for Temple News Agency are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information about Temple News Agency, go to www.templenewsagency.com, look up “Temple News Agency” on Facebook or call (219) 369-6684.