Walter Mencken 11:31 a.m., Feb. 1
Not Panicking, But Pannikin! Say It’s Not So!
The rumors are true. Pannikin downtown (675 G, 619-239-7891), the place where you can choose between a cup of fresh-roasted coffee and an African mask or a Tarahumara drum or a Mexican skeleton, is gonna close.
After 34 years.
“Well, we may have coffee and cakes for customers who come by over the weekend while we’re moving out,” says Verena Garnett.
She has run the place for years with her sister Vivienne. There are Pannikins up north, but this is the last to carry the collection of cultural curiosities from every continent, a kind of symbol of the big world out there that coffee opened up in the '80s.
Where you drink coffee
“The landlord wouldn't give us another lease,” says Verena. “We would have had to rent month by month, but we could see the writing on the wall.”
Besides, she says, downtown is changing. “It’s a young crowd. They’re not interested in cultural things. They’ll come in, take a picture of each other with an African mask, email it to their friends, and leave. Probably for Starbucks.”
But the eccentric sisters will be back. “We’ll go visit mum in England and then come back and find somewhere in Little Italy, North Park, University Heights, or even downtown.” But it won’t be Pannikin anymore. “We only had rights to that name on that site.”
Maybe they’ll name it “Caroline’s,” after Caroline, the three-wheel Indian Bajaj tuc-tuc/rickshaw they drive around town.
What’ll I miss most? The smell of the coffee beans roasting as the sisters roasted them right outside on G street. It could drop a man at 20 paces.
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