Coffee house visits are among some of my favorite because that’s where the interesting people go.
I realize for some it is only about a caffeine fix but for most people a coffee house is a gathering place, a place to meet and make friends.
If you have access to a good coffee house there is no reason to be lonely, there is always someone willing and in many cases eager to chat.
In my travels, I look for the local coffee hangouts because they tend to be more relaxed and provides better opportunity to learn about the area. Local places also tend to have a good Wi-Fi connection and these days that’s an important feature.
A few years ago, I discovered Highland Coffee House and Bakery on main street in historic downtown Lenoir NC. It’s a nice big place with a good size entry room with tables and chairs and then a much larger room in the back that has tables, sofas, big chairs and an overall well put together relaxing and comfortable environment.
Don McDonald, now in his 70’s is one of the owners and his wife Sandra is the baker, who by the way was chosen as Ms. Betty Crocker NC in the 1960’s. While Betty Crocker was, a fictional personality created by General Mills. Sandra is the real deal and spends a lot of time in the kitchen creating the bake goods for the coffee shop and others in the area. She can also be found on a stream with a fishing rod in her hand. She likes baking, she loves fishing.
Over time I have gotten to know a bit about Don and not that long ago I sat down with Don and ask him a few more questions about his earlier days and how he come to be an owner of a Main Street Coffee Shop.
As a military child, he moved around with the family, he was in Australia for his elementary school and around 13, his father would be stationed at Camp Zama, a United States Army post which is about 25 miles southwest of Tokyo.
Don recalled his time at Camp Zama, one of his high school class mates was Mary Elizabeth Anania, her father was Vincent Anania, a US Navy pilot.
Mary would grow up and become an attorney, heath care activist and bestselling author. While in law school at UNC she met and eventually married John Edwards, who was born in Seneca, SC and would become a US Senator for North Carolina. In 2004, he was chosen as the vice-presidential nomination and in 2006 he officially announced his run for the 2008 presidential elections. The Edwards family did not have the opportunity to live in the White House.
Don’s adventures in life have been many. He served 4 years as a US Marine and in civilian life has worked in the automotive and health care industry as management in customer service and conflict resolution. He then worked in code enforcement for 9 years, during which time he remarkably only had 2 cases that come before a judge.
Now I understand the reason for Don’s calm disposition, he’s had lots of practice.
The coffee shop concept was originally inspired by Don’s son Chris, who was first looking for a place in Hickory NC. It all started out as family affair with daughter Heather also being involved. The location that was finally settled on was an historic building on Main Street in Lenoir.
Don says the thing he enjoys most about his time at the coffee shop is the people, “I love the people”. When asked what do you enjoy least, with a smile and chuckle he said, “that’s easy, the spills”.
I enjoy coffee with Don and the stories of a good life with a few spills along the way.