Help Craft Neighborhood Deal With Caffè Nero

Rendering of interior for Caffè Nero's 733 Centre St. location showing window onto Blanchards.

Caffè Nero Americas

Rendering of interior for Caffè Nero\’s 733 Centre St. location showing window onto Blanchards.

Welcome to a rainy day, JP. Here’s your Morning Memo for Tuesday, Oct. 21.

Help Craft Neighborhood Deal With Caffè Nero: Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Curtis Hall, 20 South St., a special meeting of the JP Neighborhood Council’s Public Service Committee will meet to draft a “memorandum of understanding” with Caffè Nero, the international chain of coffee houses that aims to open one of their European-style cafes at 733 Centre St. Any vote on the deal would be held at a later meeting of that committee. In case you’ve been trapped under something heavy, the neighborhood has been debating whether to welcome the business because it is a multinational chain that would compete with JP mom-and-pops for your coffee dollar.

Centre/South Main Streets Fall Business Breakfast: You may have heard the new mayor has pledged to hack down the thicket of red tape that slows down or stops small businesses from opening quickly. On Thursday morning, a panel that includes City Councilor Ayanna Pressley (always a dynamic speaker) and John Lynch of the city’s Office of Business Development hold a practical workshop on navigating the city bureaucracy. There’s also free breakfast! 8-9:30 a.m. Thursday, Tres Gatos, 470 Centre St.

JP Forum Tackles Private Equity’s New Role in the Economy: There’s always an interesting conversation to be had when JP Forum meets. On Tuesday at 7 p.m. at First Church in Jamaica Plain Unitarian/Universalist, 6 Eliot St., come hear the authors of a new book about the “shadow banking system.”

OK, neighbors. Have a great day.

For more of what’s going on in the neighborhood, visit the Jamaica Plain News calendar. And here’s how to add your group or business’ event to the calendar.

  • Kate Hutchinson

    Really?! An MOU? The JPNA has no standing to control what a local property owner wants to do. I am looking forward to Caffe Nero opening, and will raise my latte to the irrelevance of the JPNA.

  • Lynn McSweeney

    Hmmmm. If one more coffee shop – especially, a chain coffee shop – is a bad idea, does it not remain a bad idea still whether or not concessions are extracted? My other question: What actual power do the denizens of JP have to stop non-local competitors glutting the ‘hood with redundant services that are detrimental to our neighbors’ businesses? Isn’t that more to the point?

    • Kate Hutchinson

      Centre Street has plenty of chains: Tedeschi’s, Dunkin Donuts, Whole Foods, and JP Licks, just to name a few. In fact, there are more Boomerangs locations than there are Caffe Neros in all of North America. JP’ers are JP’ers, they don’t have anything better to do than create unneccessary sturmunddrung about the gentrification of a neighborhood, where the loudest voices are often the agents of that gentrification. If you don’t like the chain, don’t shop there.

  • tweets4liberty

    Well, now we know who the town bullies are.

    The ideas of free trade, freedom of association, and free markets clearly haven’t taken root among members of the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council, the JP Business & Professional Assoc., and JP Local.

    Several of these groups claim to represent the community of Jamaica Plain and claim to act “in the public interest.” (David Warner, co-owner of City Feed & Supply, is clearly just acting in his own interest – his “concerns” about Caffe Nero supporting local charities are merely a fig leaf to hide his naked protectionism.)

    Why can’t a business owner purchase/lease a property space and offer his goods and services to the area? Isn’t that a basic individual freedom? Why shouldn’t a company hire whomever it likes? That’s just a basic freedom of association.

    The true measure of whether a community supports the business owner will be whether individuals choose to buy their coffee at Caffe Nero or Dunkin’ Donuts or City Feed & Supply. If individuals in JP disagree with Caffe Nero’s racial mix of employees or dislike the idea of an international coffee chain, they’re free to exert social and economic pressure by taking their dollars elsewhere.

    But don’t deny me the freedom to choose Caffe Nero if I wish. And don’t deny Caffe Nero the freedom to engage in voluntary trade.

    P.S. We’ve been here before, of course, with the argument over Whole Foods moving into JP. Here’s Reason magazine’s excellent article about that battle:

    P.P.S. Like Kate Hutchinson, I’ll raise a latte in celebration if Caffe Nero opens.

  • Hugo_JP

    I wish I had been free Tuesday evening to attend. I would have loved to hear the rationale for trying to keep Nero out or what concessions (or some would say bribes) Nero will need to make in order to open their legitimate business. I’m afraid it was a travesty of free markets.

  • Lynn McSweeney

    By that logic, we should all bend over to welcome City Realty as they infiltrate JP and artificially inflate both business and residential rents. Uh, no thanks.

    For those of you who are new to the area, a little history: JP Licks actually started – as a lone venue – in JP (hence its name) around 30 years ago, squeezed in to a tiny slice of store by the old Roseway Books (now Rhythm and Muse). The location they occupy now – the old Fire Station – is I believe their third. One reason your neighbors care so much about which businesses come here: The Fire Station’s first tenant, Breuggers’ Bagels, got the sweetest hornswoggle of a deal you’ve never heard of: for an amazingly cheap price ($1,000? $10,000? I forget) and a “promise” to keep the top storey a community arts center (rented out at $1 per year), it purchased the old fire-station from the city. Of course, when they decided a few years later to sell at an immense profit, the rental agreement with the community was no longer in force. An MOU – or an enforceable deed arrangement – might have come in handy then; we might now still have that arts center.

    More history: City Feed and Supply started as a very risky start-up on Boylston that was robbed multiple times during its earliest inception. That was when the area was kind of dicey, especially at night. This was also the experience of formerly-blighted areas like South Street, which Ferris Wheels and Fresh Hair revitalized, along with now long-gone Herb’s TV and Radio Repair shop. A leitmotif of rip-offs and robberies plagued most of the early businesses in Jamaica Plain. Due to the presence of “anchor businesses”, I – and many others – felt safer to use the streets at all hours. Fewer muggings happened, leading to today’s renaissance.

    The Bowditch building on Green Street, low-income apartments and rooms run by Pine Street Inn for the previously homeless, is the site of a former public school. You probably don’t know that at one time (almost 30 years ago) it had been sold to a private developer – also at an unbelievably low price – and the neighborhood, led by City Life, held a “Tent City” occupation to force its return, the direct cause of the affordable units that are there today. When Red Sun Press first acquired the corner building at Lamartine and Green Streets, the building opposite was a burnt ruin that had once been a store-front church, one that was torched by local kids, killing a homeless man who slept there. That nice park across the street? Wasn’t there. Neighbors had to lobby for it.

    Soon after big chain competitors arrived, the Mom-and-Pop businesses that had served the community for generations closed: Hailer’s Drugstore, Kennedy’s Butter and Eggs, Harry’s Hardware Store. Not that all chains were unwelcome: Brigham’s and Woolworth’s were gathering spaces for all races and all ages, and of long standing.

    The point is, this used to be an even more diverse neighborhood than it is today, and more welcoming to working-class families. You might want to talk to some of your older neighbors to discover why many such urban pioneers all over the nation (not just JP) do indeed try to shape their environment by such means as limiting chains, rent-strikes, and sit-ins. (Personally, I wanted Whole Foods here, but understood why some of my neighbors wanted to stop it. Likewise the long-going debate on the trolley-line vs. bus service: I was for the bus. But neighbors can agree to disagree — no need to get personal or vindictive.)

    The Randian rhetoric running through this “Free Market” cheerleading, the belittling of individual store-owners, and the sneering at grass-roots resistance to (some) chains – this all leaves a bad smell. Whether one agrees with every protest or not, participating in them is on-the-ground democracy, and it’s kind of a big thing here in Jamaica Plain. If you’ve just moved here, you should get used to it. Disagree with neighbors if you wish, but understand the history, and try to keep it civil.