NL Public Library officials ponder future of shuttered coffee shop
By Susan DeMar Lafferty firstname.lastname@example.org December 19, 2013 9:22PM
A sign at the New Lenox Public Library in December lets patrons know that the Bookworm Cafe is closed. | File photo
Updated: January 21, 2014 11:28AM
New Lenox Public Library officials continue to pore over options about the future of their recently vacated coffee shop.
At its last meeting, the board heard a proposal from Debbie and Mark Vejvoda who want to reopen the coffee shop, where Debbie Vejvoda worked with the last tenant, the Bookworm Café.
A 2012 community survey showed a lot of support for a coffee shop, but Andy Vaitkus, who also successfully operates the Bookworm Café at the Oak Lawn Public Library, said there was not enough traffic to keep the New Lenox café open.
“The board is very cognizant about giving the community what it desires, but we want to make sure it is successful and something the patrons want,” library director Kate Hall said.
The board is concerned about the “constant turnover” in café ownership, with four tenants in 12 years, which has been “disruptive” to both patrons and staff.
“People crave consistency,” she said.
The Vejvodas told the board they could bring in 120 customers per day, but Vaitkus averaged between 30 and 50 customers, Hall said.
The library is not losing money on this business, but it has furnished the equipment, which is aging, and may need to be replaced in a few years, she said.
Vending machines are also an option, which would still give patrons a place to relax and have a snack.
According to library board president Lou Broccolo, patrons told him the café’s prices were too high.
Patrons also suggested that the café be run by Starbucks or culinary students.
“We want what is viable,” Broccolo said.