Monday, December 01, 2008

Starbucks for the Soul

Looks nice, eh?

Well, your run-of-the-mill coffeeshop it isn't.

For one thing, the brew is free at Grand Rapids' newest place to get your caffeine fix... and that ain't all:
The coffee bar gleams and offers a variety of goodies. The chairs are inviting, and floor-to-ceiling windows allow plenty of natural light for reading.

Everyone is welcome to this latest entry into the wireless cafe world which offers what commercial places don't -- things that are free and low-key faith information.

The Catholic Information Center, on the second floor of Cathedral Square, doesn't charge anything for the coffee, the goodies, or the Internet service. It also offers -- but doesn't force on people -- reading materials on the Catholic faith.

"Sometimes, you just need to sit and have a cup of coffee and think about, 'What am I doing with my life?'" said Father Mark-David Janus, a Paulist priest who is director of the Center.

"Coffee shops and cafes are where we talk," he said. "That's where people go and meet and talk about their lives. That's where they use the Internet."...

Janus wants it to be a way station for people who live, work and visit downtown.

"People don't need an appointment. They don't have to come to a class," Janus said. "We have formal offerings and informal space."...

Is Janus worried that an offer of free Internet and coffee will overload the space?

"Nice problem to have," he said. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Great idea... now, who's gonna follow suit?

PHOTO: Adam Bird/Grand Rapids Press