Artists of all mediums, students, and those hankering for a late-night coffee joint have found a new home at downtown St. Petersburg’s Genaro Coffee Co. Owners Patricia Francati and Preston Johnson are responsible for the recently opened shop at 1047 Central Ave.
Johnson and Francati recognized the need for a good cup of coffee after 9 p.m. In a city infiltrated with creative spirits, Johnson said St. Pete lacked "the lifeblood of artists and night owls."
Starbucks' corporate ambience, Johnson and Francati discovered, doesn't work for everyone. So they shaped Genaro with something different in mind. More than anything, Johnson said, Genaro should function as a community resource.
Clusters of tables and chairs, two leather couches and a coffee table spawn an inviting vibe that makes the space feel like an old friend’s living room. An open-access recording studio sits on one side of the shop opposite the community chalkboard; the yellow walls are lined in local art. Johnson said the studio (complete with instruments) has been used for impromptu jam sessions.
A passerby wouldn't see a sign identifying Genaro, but the shop’s pseudo-anonymity since opening in May hasn't deterred business.
Genaro hosts different events Tuesday-Saturday, ranging from live blues and soul on Thursdays to an open-mic night (notable for spoken word and poetry) on Saturdays.
As a new school year surfaces, Johnson and Francati plan on slowing down the scheduled gatherings to focus on attracting students from nearby colleges. Sundays will offer a tea night, and Mondays are reserved for studying.
Hoping to further engage the community, there's a development in the works called the Edge program that features a loyalty rewards card for customers. People visiting local businesses affiliated with Edge get points and discounts whenever they swipe the card. Residents of the nearby Urban Style Flats already receive discounts at the shop, but with the Edge program the shop hopes to expand its community support.
Genaro offers several coffee drinks ranging from $3-$5, along with smoothies and wine-based beverages. They brew Segafredo Zanetti Italian coffees, and also plan to bring in Columbian coffee beans. Loose-leaf and boba teas are also coming soon.
Besides muffins, soups and salads, Genaro's chicken Caesar wrap is a favorite. Johnson said visitors have dubbed the signature wrap, made with homemade salsa, the best in the region. Francati said she's constantly working on new menu items.
All food and drink is made with "a whole lotta love," Johnson said.
Johnson said he thinks the shop has a good energy that draws people in, including St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster. The mayor will honor the shop's official grand opening in a few weeks with his Tea with the Mayor event.
Open from 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sunday, Genaro is a space for creativity and connection.
"You walk in to get a cup of coffee," Johnson said. "And you leave as a friend."
Genaro Coffee Co., 1047 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, 727-202-6956, genarocoffee.com.
(This is a corrected version of an earlier post.)
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