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Second Cup

A favorite Valley coffee house has closed and reopened in a new location — a little smaller, a little sterile, but still serving lattes and chai tea to a diminished but loyal crowd.

Gold Bar Espresso ("The Last Days of Gold Bar," Amy Silverman, May 30) has moved across the intersection at McClintock Drive and Southern Avenue in Tempe, landing in a strip mall on the northeast corner. Once housed in a former bank, Gold Bar became an institution, with plenty of room for regulars, many of whom "officed" at the place, nursing a cappuccino for hours as they worked on laptops and chatted on cell phones.

The musical acts were as diverse as the customers, with a regular lineup including acid jazz, piano standards, and a pair of harpists who play '80s songs.

The new coffee house is in an old yogurt shop. The walls have been painted bright yellow and purple, and Gold Bar's hallmark stained-glass windows, grandfather clock and Michael Parkes posters are in place.

The tchotchke supply is almost nil, a casualty of the war for space, although an alcove holds a pile of board games. A pot of congratulatory yellow daisies sits on the counter.

The drive-through, one of the original Gold Bar's greatest draws, is gone. But the morning regulars reportedly still show, parking and walking for their regular fixes. It's the evenings that are slow — there's not much room to spread out and hang around anymore, and no live music, at least not yet.

Summer hours are abbreviated: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Management says the hours will increase when school starts and the weather cools.



Late on a recent Tuesday afternoon, one of Gold Bar's most loyal customers, photographer-poet-music promoter Jeff Newton sits at a table in the back — papers spread out, cell phone to ear. He's alone, except for two young men in tee shirts and jeans who sit across the shop, chatting about what it's like to get laid off. The barristas quietly tend to business behind the counter.

Newton says most of the other afternoon and evening squatters have split for less "passé" locales, but he's still a Gold Bar fan. He's too busy to find another hangout, and as long as his favorite table — overlooking the parking lot but tucked in the corner, large enough for his stuff — is free, he'll be at Gold Bar most every day.

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Amy Silverman is a two-time winner of the Arizona Press Club’s Journalist of the Year award. Her work has appeared on the radio show This American Life and in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Lenny Letter, and Brain, Child. She’s the co-curator of the live reading series Bar Flies, and a commentator for KJZZ, the NPR affiliate in Phoenix. Silverman is the author of the book My Heart Can’t Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome (Woodbine House 2016). Follow her on Instagram (@amysilverman), Twitter (@amysilvermanaz), and at amy-silverman.com.