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Who wants to cook? Let’s go out to eat. See where News-Herald staff members dined and where they go to unwind in our area. You might just find a new treasure in your own neighborhood.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hold the Coffee @ Sips Coffee House

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the latest posts on Simon’s coffee shop adventures, visit his blog at

Editors note: I usually try to post entries on Sunday. However, this weekend I came down with the stomach flu and had problems just standing up straight and remembering my boyfriend's name. I hope you all forgive me for waiting until New Years Day to get this done. Future blog posts will still be on Sunday, health permitting.

I would love to live above a coffee shop like this!
Do you have a small city you love visiting, but wonder if a third or more of that love is simply attributed to its indie coffee shop? That is how I feel about Mount Vernon and Sips Coffee House at 101 S Main St. My boyfriend, Matt was raised in Mount Vernon, a town about 45 minutes north of Columbus. In addition to seeing him, his friends, and downtown Mount Vernon's revitalizing spirit, I love spending hours sitting in Sips, reading what question The Mount Vernon News asks random strangers in its weekly series, "Taking It to the Streets."  (On a side note, the answers are often hilarious and entail "Jesus.") Much of our time consists of my helping Matt study for his next nursing test that delves a little too deep into female genitalia; all the while capitalizing on free coffee refills.

Matt and I visited Sips this past Saturday, December 21, for the nth time and I figured I would dedicate my blog post to that visit.

Location: On the corner of Main and Vine streets, Sips is one of the successful downtown businesses partially responsible for Mount Vernon's steady revitalization, operating since the late 1990s. Virtually all of its Colonial-style brick buildings are occupied with independent book stores, bakeries, offices, apartments and myriad other vintage shops. Mount Vernon is the kind of place where I will like to see the city of Painesville in three or four years.

Yes, there's pasta salad behind my sandwich,
but at least I didn't order a muffin
Sips' Main and Vine Street entrances are up against the sidewalk--just like the Universe intended. A surface-level/free community parking lot does sit on the other end of the block, but it doesn't detract or break up the dense environment along Main Street. (The smaller parking lot across Vine Street does break up the synergy a bit, however.) (Matthew questioned my usage of the word, "synergy.")

Food and Beverage: Being also a deli, Sips makes wraps, sandwiches, panini, soups and overwhelmingly gregarious muffins, in lieu of a community with a suspiciously high density of diabetes.

Matt and I usually stop at Sips after a grueling, muscle-building gym session, so we're buying food often to support our gains. Saturday was no exception. We ordered a Cobb wrap, an Atlanta deli sandwich, two biscotti, and two house coffees for $19.50. The biscotti were made by Paula Barone, a retired English teacher who started her own "micro-bakery." (I think I found my latest hipster buzzword.)

Space and Atmosphere: Despite Fox News often playing on the TV and the interior's antique-themed decor, Sips draws a surprisingly varied crowd. Matt often points out all of the gay employees and patrons at almost all of our visits. (As such, I've learned Mount Vernon has a dense, Kinsey-6 population.)

In addition, Matt and I always see students (mostly from Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Central State Technical College or nearby Kenyon College) working on their laptops. (The password to the coffee shop's Wi-Fi is available on the receipts.)

As much as I love "Space Invaders," I want more.
Maybe Ice Climbers and Donkey Kong? 
Just Saturday, I saw a group of high school students piled around the Space Invaders arcade machine in the dining area. Matt tells me that is a new addition.

Using its corridor-shaped space, Sips occasionally hosts musical performances and open mic sessions in the late evening hours. You probably won't see me displaying my comedic skills there anytime soon, however. I would know, because I asked the owner to give me a try, but he replied, "We really try to keep it family-friendly."  What does he know?

Sips gets two thumbs up for hosting these. 

Again, if you have suggestions of a coffee shop for a future entry, send it to me via on Twitter at @SimonSaysNH.

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