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Rhiannon Pochopin, outreach coordinator for City Cafe, holds a cup of coffee at their new store on Elm Stree, in Manchester on Wednesday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

City Cafe

City Cafe in Manchester, opening Tuesday, offers 'Coffee on a Mission'


MANCHESTER -- THE BARISTAS are hired to whip up espresso-based coffee drinks. The specially blended roasted Brazilian coffee, dubbed "Coffee on a Mission," has arrived from A & E Roastery of Amherst.

And butterlicious sticky buns, cinnamon rolls and other European-style pastries, straight from Bread & Chocolate in Concord, will be on the menu.

What City Cafe at 542 Elm St., located across the street from the Verizon Wireless Center, needs now are the customers to walk through the door Tuesday when it holds its grand opening.

Elizabeth Leone, manager of the cafe, was busy last week putting the final touches on the cafe. A chalkboard artist had finished up the two-story high menu, a backdrop to the front counter, and glass workers were busy replacing a large glass pane in the front that had cracked.

The cafe is the brainchild of Grace Capital Church, a 1,000-member church with locations in Pembroke, Laconia and Manchester.

Even though the goal of the cafe is to make the church's presence known in the community, Leone said the church is cognizant that New Englanders frown on Bible thumpers so none of that will be found at the cafe.

"We are so excited to see the vision come alive," Leone said.

Unlike other coffee shops, City Cafe is a nonprofit which, each month, will turn over all profits to a charity, nonprofit or to people in need. It will be staffed with a mix of volunteers and paid employees — the baristas, who are specially trained, Leone said.

The first designated charity is Roca (Spanish slang for "rock") Kidz Club, a Christian organization founded in 2011 by Jennifer and AJ Hebert of Goffstown. Located in an old storefront at 179 Wilson St., the club is a place where inner-city kids can get a meal, enjoy crafts, the arts and sports.

Leone estimated that about $50,000 was put into renovating the cafe. Grace Capital Church, as well as The Foursquare Church, founded by evangelistic faith healer Aimee Semple McPherson in 1923, provided the financing, according to Leone.

The cafe will be open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. It's closed Sundays.

For Tuesday's grand opening, however, the hours will be extended to 7 p.m., with Mayor Ted Gatsas and other special guests, on hand at 5 p.m. for a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

And, Leone said, the cafe will be open whenever an event is taking place at the Verizon Wireless Arena to meet the needs of the crowds.

It also will host special events, the first of which is April 18 at 6 p.m. featuring A Woven Thread, founded by refugee women who braid silk ribbons into fabric necklaces they sell to support themselves.

Grace Capital Church began in 1996 in Pembroke with 14 people and now has grown to a congregation of about 1,000. On Sundays in Manchester, congregants gather at Manchester Community College for services.

It hopes to have a downtown presence soon and is looking at a space on Elm Street to locate its church, Leone said.


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