Central Cup Wants You to Hang Out with ‘friends’
By Peter Jasinski
LEOMINSTER -- Depending on which way you’re traveling, you have to pass a Dunkin’ Donuts when entering parking lot for Central Cup, but owner Erica Grinkis is not concerned.
To her, it’s not even a competition.
“I don’t even look at it as a competition because we’re so different,” she said. “They’re more about speed and we don’t want to be that.”
Grinkis’ goal is something of the anti-Dunkin. There is no drive-thru and no matching corporate uniforms. Instead of being hurried out the door with a caffeine fix in hand, customers will be encouraged to stay in Central Cup and enjoy their coffee buzz in a friendly atmosphere.
As the owner of the nearby Gazbar Sports Grill, Grinkis said she frequently noticed people on laptops and cellphones parked in her parking lot during the work week. With the rise of the satellite office and no relief to hectic work schedules in sight, she decided to give them an alternative to sitting in their car.
“They’re waiting for their next meeting with nowhere to go and I thought maybe if there was a place they could go inside and work or eat then maybe it would benefit all of us,” she said.
Central Cup marks something of a spin-off of sorts, according to Grinkis. It’s the evolution of the Gazbar’s in-house pastry kitchen but some of its origins can also be traced to the ’90s sitcom “Friends” and the coffee shop called Central Perk that its characters frequented.
The name Central Cup borrows some inspiration from the fictitious shop, but Grinkis said she hopes it’s not the only similarity. Though many of the show’s characters were drinking coffee on visits to their favorite haunt, the majority of their time there was spent relaxing and talking to each other.
“With a lot of coffee places right now, it’s all about convenience and being fast. It’s fast food,” said Grinkis. “We’re looking for the old school place where you can sit down and meet your friends or have a business meeting.”
Central Cup celebrated its grand opening on Friday, several weeks after an earlier soft opening. Thus far, Grinkis said reactions have been positive and she hopes to expand the menu over time.
Customers can now choose from a variety of breakfast and dessert pastries with the addition of breakfast sandwiches soon on the way. In time, Central Cup may also feature a lunch menu.
The entire coffee menu is locally sourced by the Worcester-based Acoustic Java and each drink is ground to order.
“We tried a lot of coffees and before I was really just drinking it for the caffeine,” said Grinkis. “This is really the first time I’ve tried any coffee and thought ‘Wow, this tastes really good.’”
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