There's a new, punnily named business in Jamaica Plain: Espresso Yourself -- likely a reference to the Madonna and N.W.A. songs "Express Yourself," and a play on the popular beverage -- is now open, offering coffee drinks, pastries and more on Centre Street. JP's latest coffee shop joins a cluster of places to get a cup of joe along Centre and South streets, including JP Licks, Caffe Nero, City Feed, Fiore's Bakery, Monumental Cupcakes and two Dunkin' Donuts. The shop opened in the last couple of weeks, and serves lattes, cafe au lait, cold brew coffee, iced coffee and, of course, espresso, alongside a lineup of pastries. Espresso Yourself took over the former Uforge Gallery space.
Caffè Nero is set to open its JP location on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. Credit: Chris Helms
Jamaica Plain's newest coffee shop, Caffè Nero, is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. Thursday. While many residents have welcomed the family-owned coffee house, others decry an international chain planting its flag in competition with mom-and-pop coffee purveyors. Caffè Nero has said it aims to provide a European-style coffee house where guests are encouraged to linger and talk.
Despite opposition from some residents who wanted to keep the international chain out of JP — but with strong support from others — the city's Licensing Board approved Caffè Nero's permit to serve food. This means the European-style coffee house has cleared all the red tape it needs before opening across from Blanchards. The Licensing Board granted the "common victualers" license on Thursday after delaying its decision to hear from a committee of the JP Neighborhood Council. "We're very excited about becoming a part of the community," said Jay Gentile, director of U.S. operations for the coffee house, in a Monday phone conversation. The news will delight some residents and disappoint others.
Caffè Nero, the international coffee house chain on the verge of gaining approval to open in JP, committed verbally to a list of neighborhood demands but won't sign the document. Jay Gentile, who runs U.S. operations for the family-owned company, told attendees of a Tuesday community meeting that his firm was "fully committed" to being a good neighbor and should be judged a year from now on how they actually perform. "When lawyers get involved, it gets messy," Gentile told the Public Service Committee of the JP Neighborhood Council. "It's an uncomfortable feeling." The 733 Centre St.
A neighborhood advisory group won't give its blessing for Caffè Nero to open in JP until the international coffee house chain crafts a "memorandum of understanding" with it. The Public Service Committee of the JP Neighborhood Council voted 7-5 on Tuesday to delay up to two weeks before taking an up-or-down vote on Caffè Nero's bid to open at 733 Centre St. During that time, members of the committee and interested residents can help craft the elements that might go into the written deal. "Memorandums of Understanding" are common when new businesses open, but they are usually between the business and abutters and focus on issues like noise or delivery schedules. Several residents who attended Tuesday's meeting at Curtis Hall Community Center argued for a wider-reaching "Community Benefits Agreement."