New coffeehouse emerges where 2009 fire raged

Business is ‘up from the ashes’ in Carter Park neighborhood

By Maecy Enger, Columbian Staff Reporter

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Lorenzo’s Coffee and Wine House opened its doors to the Carter Park neighborhood Friday in a historic store that was heavily damaged in a December 2009 fire.

At 3100 Columbia St., the building has been completely restored.

Besides offering beverages and food, owner Larry Patella hopes to create a friendly atmosphere.

“My goal is to make it kind of a neighborhood meeting place,” he said.

With handicapped access, indoor and outdoor seating and a lending library of books, Patella hopes to bring in a variety of customers. The business also provides cable TV, Wi-Fi and an ATM. Later, it may offer lottery games and a Redbox vending kiosk.

After the fire, Patella and his wife, Nancy, faced the decision whether to rebuild or demolish the building, which they have owned since the 1980s. For the first four years, they ran a grocery store. After that. they leased the building, until the last business, Marcell’s Hemp and Latte House, was destroyed in the fire. The fire was eventually traced to a wood-burning fireplace.

Patella decided to rebuild and open Lorenzo’s after receiving many requests and support from the neighborhood. To prevent another fire, the Patellas put gas logs in the fireplaces.

One of Friday morning’s customers was Paul Schroeder. A longtime customer of both the grocery store and Marcell’s, he said he was very disappointed after the fire but was glad the Patellas restored the building.

“Menu looks good, cant wait to try it,” Schroeder said.

His daughter, Kari Schroeder, was also excited that the coffeehouse had reopened since it is right in the neighborhood.

She liked that the coffeehouse is “more quiet and not as busy” as other places.

Lorenzo’s was named for Larry. His parents were Italian immigrants and his father, who spoke very little English, pronounced his name, Lawrence, as Lorenzo.

Larry Patella plans to host marshmallow roasts for neighborhood children in the outdoor fire pit. The space is also available for birthday parties, meetings or wedding receptions. If the liquor license is approved, the coffee house will offer wine, dinner and live entertainment such as karaoke nights and neighborhood bands.

For now, Lorenzo’s offers breakfast, lunch, and coffee and tea.

“We’ve kind of risen up from the ashes,” Larry Patella said.

Maecy Enger: maecy.enger@columbian.com.