Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Patrons Saying Bye to Shelby's as Coffee Shop Changes Hands

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Patrons Saying Bye to Shelby's as Coffee Shop Changes Hands

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

NEPTUNE BEACH - The popular Shelby's Coffee Shoppe will stay open through April 25 then will be replaced by another coffee shop with the same staff, appearance and operation style, property manager Kendra Robertson said Thursday.

But loyal patrons who came to a party there Wednesday to hug owner Shelby Hicks goodbye and wish her the best of luck in her retirement said it won't be the same without her.

Among them were some of the 273 fans who, within three days of this week's news about the shop's impending closure, signed onto a new Facebook page labeled "If it ain't Shelby's, I won't go there - I'm stubborn and it ain't right."

Hicks, 69, thanked her customers and friends for patronizing her shop, which she fashioned after her parents' country store in North Georgia, and for making her job so wonderful.

One of them, Neptune Beach Mayor Harriet Pruette, sipped a cup of wine as she characterized the shop as an institution.

"Shelby's has really been an asset to Town Center," Pruette said.

Rumors have been circulating for a week about the closure of the shop, a popular anchor at the 200 First Street shopping plaza near the Beaches Town Center shopping hub at the foot of Atlantic Boulevard.

Shelby's has attracted customers with its freshly brewed coffee and sandwiches, homemade fudge and jars of jelly beans, licorice and other treats. The shop has also displayed artists' work on its walls and participated in Music in the Courtyard, a Friday night event that draws families, friends and local bands to an adjacent open-air patio for a fun night out.

Hicks, who has been considering retirement for several months, said it's time for her to spend time visiting grandchildren, traveling and gardening. Nonetheless, she said it has been a painful decision and that as business slowed, she got behind on her rent payments.

On March 27, Hicks received a letter from landlord Edward Jones giving her three days to move out. Then on Monday, she got assurances that she could stay for several more weeks.

Later this week, Jones signed a new lease with two Beaches sisters, Katy Millan and Debbie Criman, who bought the coffee shop, Robertson said. …

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