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South Beach Coffee Shop closes

April 29, 1997

By LAURA ERNDE

Staff Writer

Blaming a "horrible reception" in downtown Hagerstown, the owners of South Beach Coffee Shop closed Monday after just six months.

The business, at 15 W. Washington St., will move to Frederick, Md., said co-owner Tom Sutton. An exact location hasn't been chosen.

"We're going to a town where they'll appreciate what we have to offer," Sutton said.

Sutton, a Hagerstown native, had high hopes for the coffee shop, which opened in October offering cappuccino, espresso and other specialty coffees.

But he complained that the business got no support in downtown Hagerstown.

"I could have made more money cleaning car windows with a roll of paper towels and a bottle of Windex," he said.

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Sutton and co-owner Tom Domer thought they had picked a prime location on the square for their restaurant, which offered coffees and lunch foods.

They spent $50,000 to spruce up the building in colorful art deco fashion.

They tried different things to draw people in, including advertising and staying open late, he said.

But the best customers they had were out-of-town attorneys. Hours would go by with no customers, Sutton said.

A note on the front door of the coffee shop Tuesday said: "To those of you who didn't like our shop ... you can now look at yet another empty building on West Washington Street."

Sutton called the downtown business climate "antiquated" and said the Downtown Assessment District was not supportive.

"We don't like to see any business close," said DAD Coordinator Karen Giffin. "I wish they felt like they were more supported."

DAD threw a grand-opening party for them and sent a mailing of their sandwich menu to 188 downtown businesses, Giffin said.

The organization conducts few promotions over the winter, said Pam Reed, who chairs the promotions committee.

"I'm sorry to see them leave," Reed said. "It happened so soon. There are many of us down here who have weathered all kinds of storms."

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