Coffee Shop Changes Hands
BY KATE SMITH
Flynne Meares is trading her java home for an uncharted venture to Indonesia and beyond.
Since Sept. 1, 2006, >Flynne's Coffee Bar has fostered a community hub at 115 NE Broad St. in Southern Pines.
The iconic Earth-toned building has embraced natives and curious -visitors with an array of coffee drinks, folksy staff, slouchy couches, a kaleidoscope of local artwork, and weekends of jazz and rock.
With the new year comes a new name and new faces. William Dean II, owner of Flowland, reopened the coffee bar Thursday, Jan. 5, as Cup of Flow Coffee and Things.
The passage of the shop from one set of whimsical Bohemian hands to another marks a new voyage for both.
One week prior to her departure, Flynne's was pulsing with a mishmash of bands and throngs of chattering friends spilling through the shop and onto the -sidewalk, all intent on sharing love and bidding farewell.
During the night, Meares retold the story of the coffee bar's spontaneous beginning five years ago.
"I had been running a coffee shop in that tiny little space at 143 [NE Broad Street]," she says. "We could have Travis Gray playing, or a mini art show, or four people sitting around with coffee. At the time, I wanted to do this for a living, so I was hoping to eventually move toward the coast, find an old -building, and live upstairs. When Frankie Anderson mentioned that he'd like to sell this place, I -mentioned that I'd be -interested. The next afternoon when I came into his place for coffee, he said, 'OK, I talked to Rosie; yes, we can sell it; here's the price and its non-negotiable.' I said I'd take it and owned it by the next Friday."
Frequently interrupted by the -bear-hugs and "I love yous" and "keep in touches" of dear friends and well--wishers, Meares says that "everybody who participates helps to create the scene."
Pops, one of her best friends and co-workers, says, "Flynne is an artist, so that's the vibe that pulls people in. A lot of people that you hear at Patrick's, O'Donnell's, Neville's and The Bell Tree started here."
Head of the local drum circle, a monthly tradition that began and will continue at the coffee bar, Pops says, "I started playing congas when I was 7, but I would only play privately. I would not be playing here or publicly at all if it weren't for this lady."
Meares shrugs off the praise and says, "Pops and I got to know each other really well because he would come by for early morning coffee, and we'd sit out on the sidewalk talking. In 2008 when I was in a car accident, Pops knew how to make two shots of espresso in a small cup, but he totally took over, ran this place, and organized the work crew. That's what this place is about. Everybody helps out and loves on each other."
She believes that Dean will sustain the warm communal vibe of the coffee bar while she travels through her next blank page.
Inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir "Eat, Pray, Love," Meares says, "I'm going to write my own book. It'll name itself at some point along the way."
Once in Indonesia, Meares will secure a position teaching English as a second language at one of several schools. Her map is simple and liberating.
"I plan to teach for a while, travel for a while, and sign another teaching contract when I need more money," she says.
A self-described "natural teacher," Meares holds a bachelor's degree in English, and has experience as an eighth-grade teacher, yoga teacher and substitute teacher.
"I even taught Kate Mangum, the new manager, when she was in eighth grade," Meares says with a laugh. "I've realized that this is something I've wanted to do this since about five minutes after I bought the shop."
Beaming from a night of friends' encouragement, Meares says, "I feel a lot of love for and from the folks. It's been a great five years, and the most wonderful people have been a part of this."
Jalen, Meares' son, is absorbing the experience of plunging eastward like a kite freed from an anchor.
"I love many people here," he says, "but I'm looking forward to the escape."
A taste of the culinary program at Sandhills Community College will springboard Jalen into a search for a resort cooking position once he's in Indonesia.
"It's 70 to 80 degrees year-round - a tropical paradise," he says.
With the same fresh, free spirit as his mother, Jalen says, "I don't know where my place is, but I'm excited about Indonesia as another home. It sounds restless, but home is anywhere. Home is wherever I am."
Standing beside the grandfather espresso machine catercorner on the bar, the new manager, Kate Mangum, says that the new owner, Dean, is "really motivated to try his hand in different business ownerships, and this is the perfect place to do that because he, like Meares, is interested in the coffee shop and music culture."
Flooring reconstruction and a hint of Flowland are the only scheduled changes. "We're still going to have open mic and the drum circle with Pops and Drink and Draw," Mangum says. "We're going to have even more of the music theme nights and weekend activities, and we all dig and will keep the earthy rustic feeling."
"We're looking forward to keeping it groovy, as Flynne would say," Dean says. "We want this to be the community spot to go for music and hanging out."
The renewal of the Bohemian coffee house promises to continue coloring downtown Southern Pines.
"A laid-back place to hang out with your friends, get your work done during the day, and a real welcoming and social vibe is what we're all about," Mangum says. "Everyone is welcome."
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