Sep 222004
Authors: Gabrielle Heise

Students looking for a place to study and a caffeine fix always have somewhere to go.

The Alley Cat Coffeehouse, 120 1/2 W. Laurel St. leaves its doors open 24 hours a day and offers a wide variety of caffeinated beverages.

Mark Williams opened the Alley Cat in July 2003. Williams had always been a loyal patron to The Blue Note, formerly located on Oak Sreet, and when it closed, he realized “there were no more cool places to hang out.” Since Williams doesn’t drink, the bar scene was not for him, so he opened the Alley Cat because he was fresh out of hip places to chill.

When he first opened the store, the hours were 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. He opted to stay open 24 hours when the back door lock broke, and it was easier to fix the store hours than the lock.

“We literally can’t close,” Williams said.

The store is a collage of colors and people. Williams did the decoration, drawing his inspiration from different places he likes such as Java Lounge, 310 N. Cleveland Ave., in Loveland. Universal acceptance is the theme when it comes to customers.

“Working here you meet a lot of different people. We cater to every subculture in Fort Collins,” said Jesse Perkins, an employee and senior philosophy major.

Since the store gets a lot of regulars, Williams referred to it as “one big extended family.” The Alley Cat even holds potlucks for Thanksgiving and Christmas for anyone who feels like attending. People can entertain themselves as they sip their drinks with the games, two house guitars and a piano that are provided for customer enjoyment.

“Right now chess is really popular and two months ago it was Risk. It’s great you could see a guy covered in tattoos and piercings playing Risk with someone preppy. I love getting people to drop their guard and be themselves,” Williams said.

Customers can order anything on the menu at any time. The store provides 50 different types of loose-leaf teas that are always changing, and the coffee is purchased from a local store, Devil’s Backbone. All of the meats and cheeses are hormone-free and provided by local suppliers. One of the more popular items is a classic bowl of oatmeal that the Alley Cat sells for 48 cents.

Williams likes hiring people with personality, which means the staff is efficient and friendly. The training process is short and sweet; Williams gives an employee a chance for two weeks, and if those two weeks go well, he or she can keep the position.

“I’ve only worked here for three weeks, but it’s a cool environment and it’s always busy,” said Lara Borrego, an employee at the store.

For those who need it, the store also provide free wireless Internet. So anyone looking for a warm drink, cheap oatmeal or a quick game of chess can swing by The Alley Cat – the doors are always open.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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