Sunday, March 09, 2008

Lincoln Perk - Guest Review

Hot coffee where you really need it


by Deborah Raney, author of Leaving November

Half an hour past Wichita, Kansas, just off I-35's Exit 40, sits a great little coffee shop. Lincoln Perk, at the edge of the small college town of Hesston, is as likely to host a chatty group of Holdeman Mennonite women sipping coffee blenders in their plain, home-sewn dresses and black headcoverings, as it is bleary-eyed coeds in cut-offs and flip-flops, ordering espressos while they cram for finals at the town's two-year Mennonite college. Retired couples meet to visit over morning coffee, local business people stop in on their coffee break, and carloads of high school students drive through for smoothies (made with real fruit) after school.

This little coffee shop boasts all the amenities of a Starbucks - specialty coffees and teas, a comfy sofa and ottomon flanked by easy chairs, and a low coffee table trunk filled with games. Plus free wifi. (Starbucks charges for wifi.)

Besides the showcase of fabulous made from scratch pastries - plate-sized cinnamon rolls slathered in frosting, muffins, breakfast cookies and bacon and egg bierocks - Lincoln Perk also serves a light lunch with an ever-changing menu starring a variety of fresh-grilled panini sandwiches and bierocks (a German cabbage and meat-filled roll). You can see a few of the offerings on the menu.

Often on weekend nights live bands or local vocalists provide entertainment, and on at least one occasion the shop was host to a local author's book signing (that would be me!) There's a great covered, flower filled patio for those too-rare days when Kansas isn't too hot or cold or windy to be outside.

Lincoln Perk has that something extra that only a small town can offer. Everybody knows everybody at this warm coffee break spot. But if you're a stranger lured off the Interstate by the promise of an extra hot, always delicious Very Vanilla Latte (my personal favorite) you can be assured you'll be welcomed as if you were a friend.

Not only do I frequent the Lincoln Perk drive-thru for a great cuppa joe, but once a week, I spend the morning there with my laptop writing. My just released novel, Leaving November, the second of the Clayburn Novels, is set in a small-town coffee shop called Latte-dah, a place very much like Lincoln Perk. It's been a pleasure to spend Tuesday mornings hanging out with the gang at the Perk, writing from a cozy spot on the sofa, a barstool with a view to the outside, or a table by the door. I'm sure I was able to create a more authentic setting for my characters because of the time I've spent in this cozy place.

If you get a chance, stop by and say "hi" to Mary, Ana, Christy and the rest of the gang. Tell 'em Deb sent you!

[Wunderfool: Deb will be signing copies of her newest novel, Leaving November, along with her backlist books at Lincoln Perk on Tuesday, March 11 from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Come in and get a free Latte-dah mug with every two books purchased.]

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