Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Kaladi Bros. keeps coffee, remodels much else

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

At Kaladi Brothers Coffee in Soldotna, some things change — the floor, paint, square footage, and now an entirely new store — and some things stay the same — the coffee, and the regulars who come in day after day to drink it.

Russ Bacon, of Kasilof, has been coming to Kaladi’s on Kobuk Street “since I was 4 years old, probably,” he said. Definitely since the end of high school four years ago, when more often than not he spent fourth period in the coffee shop instead of the classroom. Since then he’s been a daily customer, leaving him with as informed an opinion on the many changes as any designer.
There’s a lot to comment on at Kaladi’s these days, with an extensive remodel recently completed at the Kobuk store and a new branch opening soon in the parking lot of the Peninsula Center Mall on the Sterling Highway a few blocks away.

Bacon hasn’t seen the new location yet, but has had daily exposure to the changes in the Kobuk store, which include redoing the floors and the coffee counter, adding a sandwich counter offering food from Odie’s Deli most afternoons, repainting the walls and adding two new alcoves with windows to let in natural light.

“I love it,” he said. “The floor is probably my favorite part. … I like the renovations that they’re doing a lot.”

Joe Deveaux has been a regular times three since Kaladi’s opened in Soldotna in the early 1990s. Since he’s now working on Kalifornsky Beach Road, though, he’s had to cut back his habit.

“Now I only come in once a day. I used to come in morning, noon and night,” he said.

Logging that much time and caffeine earns him the opportunity to be opinionated.

“I like the remodel, but they need new furniture in here,” he said, adding that the chairs are OK but the tables need to be replaced. “They’re doing a nice job in here.”

The new windowed alcoves — the fishbowl, as Deveaux calls it — is his favorite part, although on Friday he wasn’t able to enjoy it.

“I like the bright room out there, but somebody’s sitting at our table,” he said.
Instead he was sitting at a table closer to the corner wood stove with Jeanette Pietro, her brother, Mel Perna, visiting from Wisconsin, and Ann and Argan Hoogland, from Holland.
Perna is a much more infrequent visitor to Kaladi’s, only coming by when he’s in town to visit family.

“Seeing this sudden change, not having been here, it looks good,” Perna said. “But they should have added a bathroom.”

Perna said he finds the store to be welcoming and comfortable, even if you occasionally find yourself waiting in line for the inevitable result of coffee consumption.

“It’s a very friendly place,” Perna said. “I think they have a good group of customers here.”
“Yeah, we’re all lunatics,” Deveaux added.

He didn’t qualify the statement, whether it referred to personalities or preferences for daily routines.

“It’s a good habit to have,” he said of his visits to Kaladi’s. He wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s addicted to the store, just the merchandise. These days it’s an Americano every time he comes in.

“It used to be mochas, two or three a day. But that got to be too expensive so I had to break that addiction. And I will call that an addiction,” he said.

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