Picture a warren of high-ceilinged rooms with mismatched thrift shop furnishings. This hipster/artist coffee shop haven is the stylistic and vibrational opposite of your average Starbucks. The coffee is well above average and available in a bottomless cup. Mine was served in a friendly mustard-colored ceramic mug. The menu offers soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and pastries. I went for the black bean burger. It was served with a generous helping of kettle-type chips and a dill pickle wedge. The burger was a bit mushy, and the bun was not structurally up to its task. But I ate it with relish (actually with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, ketchup, and mayo). The guy who took the order and delivered the food fits the vibe of the clientele—youngish, with tats, introspective, efficient, not chatty, at least not with me. And that’s OK.
I chose the room just to the right of the entrance, made cozy with a couch and chairs, a small table, several plants that appear to be barely hanging onto life, and a 25-cent vending machine filled with multi-colored Smarties, proceeds going to the American Red Cross, although the sign is suspiciously faded.
The overriding theme of the place is motorcycles—motorcycle magazines, motorcycle art, etc.—which I am trying to connect with the name “Diamonds.” And I also wonder how the motorcycle theme connects with the neighborhood, which has evolved as a home to artists and their studios. The coffee shop building itself contains a large number of studios, as evidenced by a directory near the door, and a steady in and out flow of artistic-looking folks. Across the street, a stained glass studio is housed in a lovely old limestone block building with red brick arches above long windows.
Writing time. After cracking opening my laptop I went up to the order counter to check if WiFi was available. Yes, the password was posted on a highly visible bright pink sign above the cash register. The woman who politely pointed this out was either the owner or the manager or a thief, as she subsequently removed a wad of cash from the till.
Today I am working on a fun scene. Claire, the main character, is taking a Greyhound bus from Chicago to “Border Falls,” the setting for much of the novel. I love the idea of Claire taking the Greyhound. It connects her with life outside of her previously relatively affluent sphere, and it enables her to encounter some pretty quirky people very up close and personal.
The writing goes well. Diamonds is just noisy enough. The bottomless coffee carries me through after-lunch drowsy time, and gives me an excuse to periodically stretch my legs.
Diamonds is worth a return visit for the comfy atmosphere and good coffee.
Footnote—I bought a freshly made Rice Krispie bar for my daughter, who is quite the aficionado. She gave it an 8.8 out of 10, commenting on the good crunch and prominent cereal flavor, the reasonable amounts of marshmallow goo, and the buttery flavor. Her only critique was that it could have benefited from a bit more of the marshmallow.
Until next week.