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Changes are brewing at local coffee shops
Two local coffee houses will add alcohol to their menus

 Fatima Khaja (left) and Debbie Howard have lunch at Solid Grounds' Spotsylvania Courthouse Village location.
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Date published: 11/4/2011

By Cathy Jett

TWO AREA coffee shops are getting something new on their menu: alcohol.

Solid Grounds Coffee House & Cafe in Spotsylvania Courthouse Village will add Virginia wine and liquors for specialty coffee drinks. Blackstone Coffee Co. in Eagle Village will offer wines from around the world and Belgian beers.

The owners of both businesses have applied to the Alcohol and Beverage Control Board for licenses. Don Merritt, who owns Blackstone, hopes to have his next month. Ray Minter, who owns Solid Grounds with his wife, Cindy Minter, just started the process.

Merritt, who opened in Eagle Village last year, said he got interested in offering wine and beer to customers after reading about the trend in trade publications and talking to a friend at a coffee roasters' convention in Williamsburg last spring.

Steve Franklin, who supplies Merritt with green coffee beans, mentioned that his shop in Atlanta, JavaVino, was "tremendously successful," Merritt said.

The trend started on the West Coast, according to Merritt, and is now taking off on the East Coast.

"It's actually gotten very popular," he said. "I've been to several [coffee shops serving wine, beer and mixed drinks] in Northern Virginia, and they've been quite successful."

Merritt plans to add a separate bar for wine and beer opposite his coffee bar, and will serve a rotating list of about 10 wines from around the world and four to six Belgian beers.

"I'm trying to be a good neighbor in the complex," he said of the Belgian beers. "I don't want to sell the same thing as Pancho Villa Express and Home Team Grill."

Blackstone also will be adding to the menu some Italian appetizers, such as cheeses, olives and breadsticks wrapped with prosciutto.

"They're things that you find in an Italian wine bar and pair well with wine and are easy to eat," Merritt said.

He's hoping the new concept will appeal to a wide demographic, everyone from the people working in the offices above Blackstone to staff at the Mary Washington Hospital complex to the construction workers who will be building the connector between Eagle Village and the hospital.

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