New Coffee Shop Plan Bring Buzz to Columbia

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COLUMBIA - A new coffee shop to be built on the corner of Providence Road and Forest Avenue has the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association and potential neighbors both excited and a bit concerned. 

"We're really thrilled to have something on Providence that isn't a payday lender and we like the idea of a community coffee shop but we don't like the drive-thru," said Pat Kelley, treasurer of the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association.

Late Tuesday night the Columbia City Council approved a rezoning of the area where the coffee shop will be built. The decision made it possible for owners of the property, Yousef Darkhalil and Mohammad Jarbou, to move forward with plans to finally make the new business possible. 

Michael Maw is the president of the Ridgeway Neighborhood Association, and said he's looking forward to the new shop.

"We are excited, overall, for the new local coffee shop coming to our neighborhood. From the early stages we worked with the property owner and entrepreneur, and the architect to provide our suggestions and ideas," Maw said.

But there are concerns about what the shop could do to local traffic in the area.

"This could bring more non-residential traffic through our streets, which many do not have sidewalks and Forest Avenue runs by our Downtown Optimist Park," Maw said.

People living on Forest Avenue and the surrounding streets feel the same way.

"I don't see why it will be much of a problem, as long as they make sure they figure out ways to make sure people can get in and out," said local resident David Owen. "I think it'll be good especially for the high school students."

Keenan Simon is a civil engineer who is working on the project. He said including the community on projects like this is an important part of the job.

"I mean I think whenever you are adding something to the community, it's important to let the community share their thoughts too."

Simon also said he expects the project to actually begin construction after the new year.