Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kiva Han Countdown: 33 days

I've been to this coffee shop a lot. A LOT. At least in the last few years. Strangely, my first two or so years in Pittsburgh, I didn't go out much at all, so I completely ignored that weird looking coffee shop located right across from Starbucks on the corner of Forbes Ave. & Craig St. (I didn't go to the Starbucks either, in case you're wondering.) But over the last few years, I've started to come here more and more often, and, this past summer, I was here almost every day after teaching a 9:00 am class. (For you fellow foursquare users, I'm the current mayor, and will likely be forever, as you'll learn if you read on …)

There's something more significant to their appeal, to me, than just the "Oh I don't want to go to the big chain over there" effect. The flyers on the wall telling me about tons of interesting concerts, art exhibits, and workshops … the funky plants (and now an avocado tree that will never be used here!) … the ever-changing art work and mural on the main wall … the baristas' smiles … the way they'll yell out whatever name you give them, and loudly, even if you're sitting right there at the bar … the perfectly-frothed cappuccino … the hilarious graffiti in the men's room (and women's room, actually, or so I've heard, I mean, what?) … the perfect location, right near CMU and the museums and Craig St. shops … the random assortment of music you'll hear over the speakers … setting up a foldup table outside and watching the traffic … the way that a hangover cure + cappucino combo hits the spot, any time of day … the scrumptious mac & cheese (with chili, too, a.k.a. "the mess") … I could go on and on.

I stopped in yesterday for a nosh and caffeine fix on my way home from campus and spotted a sign on the counter: Kiva Han will be closing its doors forever on February 19, 2012. A confluence of factors—the economy, an expensive lease and another leaser-in-waiting, the competition, etc.—have worked against this place for long enough, and they are, sadly, succumbing. I feel like a little kid whose friend is moving away and they don't really know why, or what they'll ever do in the future. I'm certainly not gonna go hang out at Starbucks every day. (Although I will continue to scam their free wireless signal from across the street, suckers.) Alright, it's not that life threatening, in the grand scheme of things, but it still sucks. I said that to a barista yesterday when I spotted the sign: "That really sucks." She said, "Yup." And that was that.

So why am I writing this now, and why is there a "countdown" in the title? Well, I don't really know what else to do, and I like to commit myself to quantified, manageable tasks, so I have vowed to patronize this here coffee shop (that I am sitting in right now, as I type this) every single day for the next month and a couple of days, while it's still here to be patronized. Even if it's just for a cup of coffee to go on my way to catch a bus, I will stop by here at least once a day for the next 33 days. I figure that will at least be a nice way to make some lasting memories of the place in my head, and if it helps show some support for the place on the whole, all the better. Maybe you'd like to join my quest? Go for it!

Today, I showed up around 2:30 and ordered a California wrap (eggs, avocado, sprouts, spicy tomato spread) and a drip coffee. I'm sitting at a table by the coffee bar, the one that's situated right by the door that opens out onto the corner of the street. I was pretty warm (unsurprisingly) from my walk when I got here, and even thought about ordering an iced coffee, but realized that would probably make me look insane in this weather, so I didn't. Instead, I contemplated opening the door in front of me a tiny crack, but then figured everyone else here wouldn't like that, so I just sat here sipping hot coffee and slowly cooling down. And then I started typing this. And now we're here. And now we're going off somewhere else.

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