Search This Blog

Monday, April 8, 2013

Oh, Where, Oh, Where Has that Little Stand Gone…

I B's footprintOh, where, oh, where can it be? The Valley is going to have a harder time waking up these days. Last Saturday I headed for town and lo and behold, there at the intersection of Tualco and 203, the corner was bare. The little business known as Island Blends was gone, disappeared, vanished. The trade winds must have spirited it away to parts unknown…the Bermuda Triangle, perhaps. Nothing remains but a drain pipe or two, some footings, a faded sign and a bewildered little palm tree, suddenly orphaned, left to fend for itself among the ghosts of Carolyn Peters’ corner menagerie. The little stand has disappeared faster than you can order: “A tall, white chocolate mocha, non-fat, extra hot,  no whip…Please!”

The Ripple has its investigative staff working around the clock gathering the particulars, but as of this posting, where the little blue stand went, when, and most puzzling of all, why, remain shrouded in mystery. We all know what happened to Ms. Peters’ little egg/flower stand: a green Honda Civic took it out a few years back, sliced the walls right out from under the roof. A wrecking ball couldn’t have done a more efficient job. Who was behind the wheel of that little, green machete is yet a mystery, too. What happened to the stand, though, was obvious.

Responding to a query from The Ripple’s research department, landlord Matt Beebe in an email reply shared little more than what the The Ripple already knew: the stand was gone. Yes, the vacant corner had pretty much confirmed that fact. Matt was already moving on with plans for the future, hoping to keep the Valley’s caffeine drought as brief as possible. The Ripple invokes journalistic privilege and shares Beebe’s business model for Island Blends’ replacement. His intent “is to provide local community commuters with a drive-up coffee stand next to a walk-in farmstand on the best corner site for access parking this side of Monroe in the farmland. I want to see more picnic tables and umbrellas,” Matt continued, “for people to sit down awhile and enjoy the afternoon there in the summer with their families with fresh fruit from the farmstand and cold drinks from the coffeestand as there are not too many places left anymore in the farmland areas for people to go and enjoy the local farm products.” (Oh, and by the way, the stand will be “family friendly”; bikini baristas need not apply…runs up the utility bill, for one thing.) And while The Ripple is still puzzled as to the why of the “just up and left” Island Blends stand, the business model Mr. Beebe put forward seems sound enough. However, Gladys and I  might suggest that on a hot summer’s day a good hotdog loaded with everything (yes, that includes sauerkraut) would complement that cool, refreshing drink.

I suppose I should have been a better Island Blends patron. I could count on ten fingers the number of coffees I purchased during the brief time Mike ran the business and probably have a couple digits to spare. I for one will miss the little blue hut. Island Blends added a bit of “funkiness” to the corner if one can apply such a term to its Hawaiian theme. My nickname  for the proprietor was “The Ukulele Man,” as I frequently found him strumming away on that instrument between customers as if he were Don Ho. I’ll miss his colorful Hawaiian shirts and shell necklaces—as close to the “Islands” as our Valley will ever get (excepting flood season). What most impressed me about Mike was his creative marketing and entrepreneurship. I once told my wife that if it would stand still long enough, Mike could sell it. In addition to his featured beverages he peddled everything from sea salt to honey to pepper spray. When Gladys and I passed by, we would frequently see him puttering here and there about the place making improvements, adding gutters, a coat of paint complete with a gentle surf lapping at the foundations. Mike’s little mustard-yellow hotdog cart was an extension of his personality, I always thought. (I must confess I couldn’t count on both hands the hotdogs, loaded up with the works, I purchased those sunny weekends when Mike rolled out his little“sunshine”cart.) When our old refrigerator passed away, he offered to loan us one of his small units until we were back in business, and when our brand new replacement malfunctioned, Mike kept us supplied with bags of ice while we waited for a technician to get the thing running again.

News keeps breaking as I’m writing this post. I contacted a longtime customer of Island Blends and he said he purchased his morning coffee on the way to work last Friday and when he returned that evening the stand was gone. “Mike never said a thing about it when he served my drink,” he exclaimed. “The stand is gone and I bought a pre-paid card, too!” (Rumor has it the stand has washed aground [ no pun intended] behind one of the buildings at the Creasy Log Homes site. Thus the mystery deepens and The Ripple is following the story closely….)

In the dark Valley mornings I’ll miss the stand’s cheery little neon sign flashing “OPEN,” announcing that the coffee is hot, inviting Valley coffee lovers to drive on in and be served. In the meantime as far as Island Blends little business is concerned, the Valley wishes it a  fond farewell and “Aloha…” for the time being, at least.Sign of times gone by

Print this post

No comments:

Post a Comment