Monthly Archives: May 2022

Deco Grab and Go

Happy Memorial Day, readers! As I type this, I’m running on three hours of sleep due to an unexpected event today and the social anxiety that inevitably accompanies them. Well, it is for me at least. Other people don’t fret about what will happen if they don’t get sleep, thereby sabotaging themselves into not getting any sleep. But hey, insomnia drives the need for temporary stimulants to make it through the day, and without that need, there would be no coffee or coffeehouse blogs. Life has come full circle.

Something else that has come full circle is local Harrisburg celebrity Callie Alvanatakis. To paraphrase Darth Vader, once she was but a learner. Now, she is the master. Callie has been a fixture around Pennsylvania’s capital city for quite some time, performing in local theater productions and working at various delis and such. Now, she’s launching her own production: Deco Grab and Go cafe. It launched during what was arguably the worst possible time for opening a new business; the winter of 2021. Ugh. To say that this move required tenacity is an understatement.

Deco is definitely an ambitious project. It’s a combination restaurant and coffeehouse, serving sandwiches and other lunch fare targeted to workers and politicians at the Capitol building who have to dine on the fly. I know what you’re thinking: Uh oh, a diner and coffeehouse? That means good food but crappy diner coffee. Such is thankfully not the case at Deco! Callie found a workaround. She’s partnered with the local roasting company Elementary Coffee, located right down the street. I’m fairly certain I did a write-up on them before. If I didn’t, that’s coming.

All of their coffee has a delicate quality to it. I ordered my usual house blend and could tell right away that it was distinctively smooth but airy. It was a Kenyan coffee, but it gave few outward indications; none of the typical citrus flavors were evident. I could have sworn it was an Arabica. That makes for a pretty breakfast blend, and it was a good choice to serve this on a fast-paced weekday morning.

Remember how I wrote early on about the connection between political philosophy, and coffee? That link was on full display at Deco the second I entered. There was a gaggle of politicians (Democrats by the tenor of the conversation) commiserating in the cafe and planning campaigns. The talk was a combination of bombast and tribal joviality, born of a profound self-certainty (just like a conversation between Republicans). They didn’t acknowledge, let alone address me. They could probably smell my discomfiting radicalism the moment I walked in the door. On the other hand, social transactions in Harrisburg can be rather brusque. In this city, everyone’s on the move.

It’s not surprising that Callie’s savoir-faire can put these hardened politicos at ease. I know her, and she dwells in the rarefied air of Harrisburg’s legitimate theater scene, among the movers and shakers. I perform poetry with a decidedly renegade element. That’s another big-city truth that doesn’t apply to the small towns we’ve been visiting lately for this project: There can be multiple art ‘scenes’ in a place like this. Tribes splinter. Subcultures emerge. A coffeehouse here can’t be everything to everyone…but it has to be everything to someone. I’m sure this cafe is everything to the hungry folks under the Dome.

Give this place a try if you stop by the Burg. Much like McGrath’s Pub down the road, you’ll be exposed to a cross-section of Harrisburg’s decision-makers and harried commuters. You’ll also be well-fed. The next leg of the journey is…well, it’s a toss-up. The Mountains portion is likely going to have to wait due to the slew of new places I’ll hopefully be visiting during the summer concert season. In the meantime, stay caffeinated and have a fine holiday.

the signage…

the menu…

the campaign…

the random…

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Posted by on May 30, 2022 in Uncategorized


New Plan…Hometown and Mountain Tour

You may have noticed that this isn’t being sent from somewhere in the Alleghenies. Well, change of plans. Due to some crazy weather and the fact that so many new coffeehouses have opened in my hometown of Harrisburg over the next few months, I’ve decided to consolidate a bit. Over the weekend, I’ll be posting an update about a new local establishment geared specifically towards the arts community. Look for that on or before Memorial Day!

The simple truth is that stuff’s happening. A lot of stuff’s happening. Concerts that I was afraid wouldn’t happen are happening, and I’m going to be hitting the road over the coming weeks as I have over the past few. I don’t know where I’ll end up, but the festivals are going to be scattered all over the state and beyond…and so that’s where the Coffeehouse Journey must go. Plus with the wife and new kid, I don’t know how much time I’ll have for coffeehouses. Just kidding! I’m as free as the wind and avoiding the prospect of little brats. So yes, more coffee and shenanigans are on the horizon.

The Alleghenies tour will still come to the climactic close I promised…but likely in a few months. In fact, I’ll be stopping in (drumroll please) McVeytown and Mount Union! This will come before a push into the Pennsylvania Wilds. If you know anything about that area of the state, you’ll see a clear possibility here: Williamsport. Yes, I have every reason to believe that the unofficial “capital” of the Wilds has a burgeoning coffee culture. I have a theory that the same is true of its many satellite towns and other villages between there and New York. Now, from where I’m sitting, that sounds like a cohesive strategy of sorts. A Mountain Tour that will have a distinct story to tell. Until this weekend, stay caffeinated!

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Posted by on May 25, 2022 in Uncategorized