Welcome to the inaugural post of Write Out, the Dwyer Café’s service for writers, thinkers, and socialites who want to know where to go when working at home just won’t do. To get things rolling, I’ve walked half a block from home to the Firehouse Café, a mecca for the coffee cognoscenti who frequent the Village of Fairhaven in south Bellingham, Washington.
My goal in these posts is not to become your coffee critic, but to provide information twice a week on a venue where you can sit and create art or friendships. I’ll be providing uniform details about all spaces, as well as some personal impressions of each visit. Don’t look for a rating system, as I’m not here to judge anyone’s approach to doing business.
Here are the standard details for the Firehouse Café:
Address: 1314 Harris Avenue
WiFi: free, unsecured
Music: quiet, varied styles
Tables: 8 small
Outlets: 2, covering 4 tables
Clientele: mature, local
Gluten-free options: yes
Hours: 7:00am-5:30pm daily
12-oz cappuccino: $3.75 tax incl.
Time allowed: 2+ hours
Parking: free on street
Loyalty card: buy 9, get one
At the Firehouse, the space exudes warmth in the most literal of ways. They keep a wood fire going in a real hearth, rather than a modern add-on fueled by gas. I got a Dickensian feel from writing next to the flames.
When I asked about WiFi, my barista offered to help me if it didn’t work. It lit right up, and it worked the whole time I was there.
When I write at home, I can ignore noise. However, I don’t play music, because I wind up mouthing lyrics, rather than listening to the voices of my characters. Before I know it, I get dialogue like this:
“There’s a lady who’s sure I fell into a burning ring of fire,” she said.
“Oh, take a chance on me,” he replied.
I can ignore music when I write out, for some reason. I’ll mention the nature of any music I hear at the venues, so you can decide whether or not it suits your comfort level. At the Firehouse, there was a stereo going behind the barista at a gentle volume, with no speakers in the café area. The songs ranged from 1960s classic rock to 2010s folky girl singers. At one point, a woman at a table sang a few snatches of “Time of the Season” by the Zombies.
For those who want to camp out to write: The Firehouse has eight tables that can hold two laptops each. The barista said that, unless the place filled up, I wouldn’t be bumped out. The folks at the Firehouse are used to seeing writers (and professors grading essays) at work, so you’re safe here.
I have seen groups pull tables together, most often when a French conversation group meets. If you’re planning to set a story in France or Québec, you may want to find out when the group is here so you can have them murmuring in the background. The Firehouse has a solid core clientele, generally mature neighborhood people, and the baristas recognize them.
The menu offers a full range of drinks, with a 12-ounce cappuccino (the benchmark for my blog) costing $3.75, tax included. They rotate a variety of in-house baked goods, including some gluten-free options. If you get hungry while you write, try the chili here; it’s not super-spicy, but it’s thick and flavorful.
Be aware that the Firehouse takes only cash or checks. You get double card punches on Mondays, so I show up on Mondays.
The Firehouse supports artists, and it runs a performance center that hosts concerts, dance and yoga classes, and films.
I wrote this whole post at the Firehouse, so I found the workspace effective enough. Your tastes may vary, but now you know the lay of the land when it comes to the Firehouse.
And what have I accomplished this week, between my Writing In and my Writing Out? Obviously, I created a Facebook writer page, which I tied to this new blog and the companion website. I also tweaked two short things so I could send them out the door, one to Memoir and one to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine.
One of my short works has been in the hands of an editor for four months. I take that as a good sign that it’s on the bubble. My story may not be such an obvious winner that it got snapped up the moment of its reading, but it didn’t come back a week later in a flaming envelope, either. Wish that little guy luck for me, if you don’t mind.
What have you written this week? Talk to you soon!