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Okay, so it’s been years, maybe decades, since the movement began to gentrify the west end. Probably started when they built The Peace Center, which was completed in 1991 (which means the sinister plot was being hatched all the way back in the 80s—along with technopop and glitter country…and Madonna 1.0). They drove out the hookers. Reclaimed the “West End Market.” Pulled some political magic to get The Governor’s School for the Arts down there. Schmizzled the park and put in the bridge. Gave Billy Mitchel’s house to the Hughes brothers. Changed a couple blocks of Pendleton Street to (South) South Main Street. Put in some mega expensive condos. Built West End Field.

By now, the gentrification process has gained critical mass, and there will be no stopping it. We will have Volvos in the West End. But beyond the West end, by a couple of miles, on out the part of Pendleton Street that is still Pendleton Street…down past Academy…is a part of town that’s still a little scarey…in a good way (I think). The part of town I propose to call… The Wild West End.

That’s where our friend Diane Kilgore Condon pioneered to put in The Art Bomb. And that served as ground zero for what has exploded into a bonafide, tattooed, pierced, and henna-dyed bohemian arts district. And that is where our dear friends, the Stephensons, have decided to open what promises to be the coolest coffee shop ever…in Greenville, or anywhere.

Coffee to a Tea is opening tonight in what used to be Tuckers Soda Shop. Now, judging from past history, the place will be very well run, serve superb coffee (prepared by masterful baristas), tea from strange and wonderful places, and delectable goodies. Because Jessie and the Stephensons (sounds like a folk band from Nova Scotia, doesn’t it) are the perfect storm of baking ability, management ability, and coolness. You gonna have to try it to believe it.

To get there, from downtown, stay on Pendleton Street, all the way through the ghetto, across Academy, until you come to Lois Street (at the beginning of the arts district). Turn right, go under the trestle. And it’ll be like the second or third building on your right. Check it out.

I have high hopes that this will turn out to be a destination of coolness for the people I like to hang with. Even as I hope the Volvos stay away for a while. But that’s just me.

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