There I was. Surrounded by lions.
“Wake up man! Wake up!” “Coffee. Coffee! I need coffee!” Whether you are attempting to flee the horrific nightmare that demands to linger at the edge of your mind as you open your eyes to start the day, or as you sit on the edge of the bed, dawn peering in through the window, just wanting to clear that early morning, have get ready for work haze or you just want to kick back, relax, and savor the essence and flavor of a cup of hot, freshly brewed Columbian blend with a friend, then a visit to Grand Central Perk is surely warranted.
Upon entering, I was struck by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee along with Toto’s Africa playing overhead and I immediately knew that this was a hidden gem. Greeting you are brick walls, a wooden floor and following in the footsteps of the popular sitcom “Friends,” a comfy sofa.
Already having experience running a business and searching for a new endeavor, owner Leslie Zank came upon the idea of a coffee shop while watching an episode of Friends with her husband. So, in 2019, Grand Central Perk was born, creating a place to gather and relax with your friends.
The building that houses the shop has a past of its own. Erected in 1909, previous tenants included a car dealer, grocery store, hardware store and a restaurant. Now, following an enormous amount of remodeling and hard work, Zank is creating her own history while providing an atmosphere that welcomes everyone.
Main Street Roasters, located in Nappanee, provides the coffee for the shop’s creations, keeping things local, and helping the small business community.
Beverages served up by the baristas include espresso, lattes and Frappuccino’s, along with a variety of coffee and tea. Jamaican Me Crazy and Carmel Cashew are a few of the prominent flavors that the shop has. Sticking with the “Friends” theme, some of the most popular drinks are the Chandler and the Joey. People familiar with the show instantly know that the Chandler is a salted carmel and coconut latte, while the Joey is a mango tea. Also included on the menu are drinks like milkshakes and lemonade. A lavender lemonade is available, providing one with the soothing benefits that the herb has to offer.
What would a great cup of coffee be without something great to nibble on? Muffins, cookies, or if you prefer, a slice of pie or cake, are here to satisfy those early morning hunger pangs or those afternoon cravings. Pistachio muffins and cookies are a couple of the favorites you can treat yourself to.
For those that frequent the shop often, Zank typically knows their order.
“I know what they want and usually have their order up on the counter as they walk through the door,” she says. This just shows that being a regular…has its perks.
Besides being a great place to chat, or just having the desire for some lively conversation, social gatherings are welcome as well. Christmas parties, bridal showers and local church meetings are just a few of the events that can be accommodated. Grand Central Perk has also appeared at local celebrations, such as the North Judson Mint Festival and the Bass Lake Festival. For those wishing to channel their vocal talents, Friday is open mic and karaoke night at the Perk.
With the humorous theme from the popular sitcom creating an atmosphere of ease and relaxation, along with a great cup of coffee, one can detach from the hectic stress of life at least for a moment. “If you concentrate on things that are funny, you don’t have to worry about anything else at least for a little while,” Zank says.
So, if you want to just take a break from your day and sit down with a great cup of coffee, Grand Central Perk is located at 102 East Sycamore Street in North Judson and can be reached at 574-708-4759.
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