As someone who has gone to Provincetown for a decade and a half, I've seen many places crumble because of greed, hubris, or truly awful service (remember Esther's? Cafe Blase?) In a troubled economy, where folks are budgeting a per diem for each vacation day, a gourmet coffee is not a treat they're taking lightly. I used to walk all the way west from the East End, stop at Joe's for coffee, stop at Relish for cupcakes, and wander the beauty of the West End fully sated. The older Joe's establishment was cute, friendly, egalitarian, typically New England. The staff were warm, whimsical and efficient. Since moving to the new location, a cold, awkward, unpleasant site, everything that I found charming about my $7 coffee experience was lacking. The benches in front of the old Joe's gave way to several tables, several EXCLUSIVE, proprietary tables. One cannot just join a table as one could join someone on a communal bench. Joe's killed the random conversations they cultivated beautifully. It was on Joe's former benches I was talked into trying Front Street; on another bench conversation that the murder of Christa Worthington was debated; on still another seating where a couple who'd been together for over 30 years shared the joy that they could marry. That, to me, justifies the $7 coffee. I'm buying not just a drink, but an experience. As Joe's stands now, they're as impersonal and dull as Starbucks. I can get my $7 coffee several other places in town (Wired Puppy looks to be the frontrunner for me). I'm saddened to see a solid, pure institution such as Joe's spoiled by such obvious greed.
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