Bruce Robinson

West Central Coffee manager Bruce Robinson was helping in the coffee tent at the corner of Broadway and Washington Boulevard in Fort Wayne during the fourth annual Broadway Street Stroll on July 28. He’s hoping a water main project will move ahead quickly so the coffeehouse can start serving coffee, soups, salads and sandwiches to area residents in September.

Getting West Central Coffee (WCC) ready to move into the building on the southwest corner of Broadway and Washington Boulevard in Fort Wayne “has been a moving target,” manager Bruce Robinson said. “It has been in development for three years and two months.”

The problem is the building is without water; the holdup is that water main construction has just begun and won’t be completed until sometime in September, a year later than it originally had planned.

That’s why WCC had to welcome Broadway Street Strollers on July 28 under a tent in the vacant lot next to the still-empty building. In addition, members of St. John Lutheran Church, which owns the building and will lease it and two upstairs apartments, could only offer coffee from two coffee urns on a folding table as well as cold water.

Robinson, who was co-owner of Blue Mountain Coffee on Columbia Street back in the 1970s as well as two Ernie’s Steakhouse locations (Dupont and Maplecrest roads) and Park Place Grill on Main Street, is champing at the bit to get things moving in the right direction. Recent shoulder surgery that requires him to keep his left arm in a sling has not slowed him down or curbed his enthusiasm.

“The contractors,” Robinson said, “have a few minor details to complete inside before we can start doing some decorating, add art to the walls and move in our equipment, tables and chairs. The building, which is 100 feet deep, will allow us plenty of room to operate and serve customers comfortably.

“My goal is to make West Central Coffee a place that area residents can walk to or ride their bicycles to get their coffee.”

He plans to serve coffee from the major coffee producing nations as well as soups, salads and sandwiches.

“Once we get rolling we are thinking about including outdoor dining in the space between this building and the next one to our south,” he said. “It won’t be happening this year, but perhaps by next year we’ll add a wrought-iron gate and put in tables with umbrellas. We also have a back room that we hope to make into a music venue. All we need now is water.”

St. John Lutheran Church received several thousand dollars in grants for the project. Construction is completed on the apartments, which still need appliances, and the church has hired a leasing company, Peter Newcomb, a church member, said.

The church, which was formed in the mid 1800s, is one of the oldest existing establishments in the city. Located in the center of the west end of downtown, it has dedicated its energy and enthusiasm to improving the neighborhood and welcoming the community for social good.

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