Lakeshore Coffee House serves a loyal clientele

“WHAT’LL IT BE?”—Employee Holly Frankos is ready to pour any of the Coffee House’s six daily brews. (Photo by John Sheridan)

In Downtown Euclid’s oldest commercial strip — the string of retail establishments between East 218th and East 222nd streets — many businesses have come and gone over the last two decades. But, like the little train that could, the Lake Shore Coffee House keeps on chugging along.

“We have a really great loyal clientele,” says proprietor Greg Lawrence. This cozy coffee house, known for its casual, relaxed atmosphere — as well as its fresh-brewed coffee, is approaching 19 years in business. It is easily recognizable from the street as the place with the sidewalk table for patrons who enjoy sipping or snacking al fresco.

“We opened the coffee house in 1992, just about the time that a Seattle startup company began branching out,” Lawrence points out. “That company was Starbucks.”

The long-time Euclid businessman has actually been on the strip since 1989, when he moved his real estate and insurance office from East 200th Street to Downtown Euclid. He believes his three businesses may be the longest-running establishments on the strip.

The other businesses are Hilltop Insurance and HRI Realty. “Those are what I do for a living,” he says, adding that the coffee shop seemed like a good idea back in 1992, as a way to fill a vacancy in the building and also to offer Euclid area residents something a bit novel. At the time, there were very few coffee shops in the Greater Cleveland area.

Over the years, Lawrence has benefited from a symbiotic effect. “Many of our coffee house customers have become clients of the other businesses,” he notes.

Among the features that make the Lake Shore Coffee House appealing to customers are the “little extras” that it offers, including Wi-Fi internet access. Customers with laptop computers are able to access the internet during visits to the coffee shop, located at 22032 Lakeshore Boulevard. It also has a video game terminal, reading materials on loan from the Euclid Public Library, and (in addition to its coffees) a menu that includes sandwiches, soups, salads, ice cream, muffins, bagels, cookies and other treats. The muffins are baked on site.

“The signature drink is our mocha, which is our own recipe,” Lawrence explains. “It is similar to a chocolate milk, only with caffeine and really creamy, served hot or cold, and topped with whipped cream.”

Each day, the coffee shop features a selection of six different flavors. The coffee is ground for each pot just before it is brewed. The popular house blend is a mix of three African coffee beans.

Among the sandwich offerings, many customers prefer the chicken salad, the proprietor notes. The most popular ice cream flavors are cappuccino crunch for the adults and Superman for the kids. For mothers with toddlers in tow, the coffee shop has high chairs available. And the rear entrance is “wheelchair friendly.”

Last fall, when a new food establishment opened next door, in space previously occupied by the Kebab House, Lawrence was not concerned about any competitive threat. In fact, he welcomed his new neighbor with open arms. “Additional restaurants should help bring more attention to the coffee house,” he says.

Certainly, Lawrence understands how retail establishments can co-exist in a symbiotic relationship. And he’s hoping to see more of that principle at work, to ensure a brighter future for Euclid’s oldest commercial strip.

Mocha, anyone?

John Sheridan

Retired journalist. From 1963 to 1972, wrote for and edited the Euclid News-Journal, predecessor to the Sun-Journal. From 1972 to 2000, I was a writer and editor for Industry Week magazine. Also have worked for the Plain Dealer as a part-time sportswriter, covering high school sports. And I was a contributor to the previous Euclid Observer. I have lived in Euclid for almost my entire life. I am a graduate of St. Joseph High School and John Carroll University.

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Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 4:00 PM, 05.04.2011