Washington Evening Journal
https://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/open-coffee-open-conversation/1295240

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 18, 2017

Open coffee, open conversation

By Linda Wenger

I went to the first Open Coffee for Washington of 2015 last Thursday morning at Dodici’s Shop. I was enjoying the morning even before I arrived because the weather was finally warming up and the holidays were over. After ordering a sugar-free caramel latte (so delicious), I joined the group already present. Over the course of the next hour 14 people were talking about all kinds of things.
Isabella Santoro handed out new business cards for the L.E.T.’s Center for the Healing and Creative Arts. She’s a member of the board of directors. The card said the mission of the center is to create a home where the arts can thrive.
In keeping with the mission, local artist Kathleen Almelien said she is planning sketching classes in February. No one is allowed to say they can’t draw, she said. She will find out what the students can do and expand their horizons from there.
Someone else said that a man from Iowa City had been making inquiries about available business space on the square. Another person said that the basement of Dr. Wiese’s dentist office has a new business, but no one at the coffee knew what the business is.
Another topic of conversation was about the Premier 1 Supplies Sheep Show held recently. Lorraine Williams catered the lunch, so she said that about 200 people attended the show in rural Brighton.
That led to a few comments about available motel space and the decline of bed-and-breakfast businesses. When asked about WEDG’s survey on motel availability, Ed Raber said he wasn’t ready to discuss the results.
Raber did say that Bazooka recently had a big day with people coming to Washington from outside of the area.
Library director Debbie Stanton said she would love to have a state library association meeting in Washington, but she doesn’t think there would be enough motel rooms available.
Richard Gilmore, who used to own a bed-and-breakfast, said the business is a tough one and that potential lodgers aren’t plentiful.
Also on the minds of the attendees was what kind of businesses they would like to see come to the square. A bakery would be nice, someone said, but Lorraine said the customer base doesn’t exist at this time. A Mexican grocery store was suggested, but a store on the square would have to compete with two big-box businesses in town. A health food store would be good, someone said. That would require someone with special knowledge who could point customers in the right direction for health food and supplements.
The Open Coffees for Washington are held from 8 to 9 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month. They are open to the public.
I’m looking forward to the next coffee. One of the main reasons I enjoy it is that I don’t hear the topics of conversation elsewhere.  The people are very welcoming and it’s a great way to start a business day. The coffees are billed as open discussions about creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
I would enjoy attending club meetings, taking a picture and writing a story about area clubs. I’ve attended the Washington Lions Club, Washington Rotary, Last of the Red Hat Mamas, and Fortnightly Club. Call me at The Journal at 319-653-2191.