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Library coffee shop remains shuttered

No takers yet to run bibliophile cafe

It’s probably easy to identify with Durango Public Library leaders who in a sense are reading the same book but hoping for a different ending.

Once again they’ve put out a request for proposal, called an RFP, to operate the coffee shop at the library but found no takers,

The coffee shop has been closed since December.

Library director Andy White and Steve Redding, chairman of the library advisory board, said Wednesday it would be difficult to find a better deal.

The library provides a cart, espresso machine, brewers, tables and chairs. The concessionaire decides what beverages and snacks to offer and sets the hours of operation.

Patrons can take drinks into the library if the cup has a cover.

If the concessionaire doesn’t like the way things are going, a seven-day notice is all that’s required to walk away from the operation.

In the first year at least, a concessionaire would pay no rent or commissions and would not share profits with the library, White and Redding said.

Rich and Dorothy Weigman got the same conditions for the two years they ran the operation. They didn’t renew their contract in December in order to pursue other interests.

Before the Weigmans opened for business Jan. 1, 2011, library leaders sent out two RFPs and received no response.

But a story in The Durango Herald that mentioned the apparent lack of interest brought four responses, including the one from the Weigmans.

An early community survey indicated that the public wanted a coffee shop at the library, Redding said. It wasn’t envisioned as a money maker but as a convenience for patrons.

The coffee shop had regular customers who didn’t necessarily check out books.

Gary Harpel, associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Durango, used it as a meeting place for a group of old friends and church members.

“It was a nice place to meet, convenient and quiet,” Harpel said Wednesday. “In many coffee shops, there’s too much background noise to talk comfortably.”

Harpel estimated the group met once a week there for 18 months.

Sandra Mapel used the coffee shop regularly to spend time with her granddaughter and peruse children’s books.

“I wanted to support him (Rich Weigman),” Mapel said Wednesday. “I’m an avid user of the library and a hanger-outer. I hope someone comes along to open it again.”

The location is convenient for river-trail users, Durango High School students on break and employees at office buildings on either side of the library, Redding said.

daler@durangoherald.com

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