Category Archives: Local Paragons

Local Paragons Part III: Ardmore Coffee

Ardmore Coffee is located at 1316 S. Hawthorne Rd. in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Nestled in the Ardmore neighborhood, it is a local treasure of the community. Small, but homey they offer wifi for their customers and a communal atmosphere for locals to meet or work. There are a few small tables that line the narrow strip by the bar and a small couch/sitting area in the back of the coffee shop more suitable for meeting. There is outside seating for the more pleasant spring/fall/summer months. The best part is the affordable GREAT coffee (not chain quality, but real espresso).

Food/Beverage: <3 <3 <3 <3                    Local Color: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3


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The chair scraped against the hard, gray floor of Ardmore Coffee. Lucy looked up from her laptop and pulled her earbuds out—faded sounds of Josh Vietti’s violin cover of “Best of Both Worlds” still emanating but not drowning out the world around her.

“Hey Chris,” Lucy smiled as Katie’s twin brother plopped down in front of her. She’d known Chris as long as she’d known Katie—he might as well be her own brother.

“So, did you call him?” Chris grabbed her latte and took a sip. Lucy frowned. She would kill Katie for this later.

“No,” she pulled the sea salt and caramel latte back to her side of the table. “And get your own coffee.”

“I will,” he smacked his lips together and made a face. “That’s sweet. Really sweet.”

“It’s a latte,” she rolled her eyes. “It’s bound to be sweet. And it’s to die for.”

“Is it better than the Crème Brule you told me about last week?”

“Less sweet.”

“Hmmm.” Chris stood again and backed toward the door. “Maybe I’ll get something classic like the Americano.”

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“You just can’t handle this kind of awesome,” she said, finally turning the music off on her phone. She watched as he grabbed a mug from the shelves on the wall. She loved that about Ardmore—the mugs by the door added a homey touch to the place making it less corporate than the chain coffee places. Being about to pick your own mug made her feel a personal connection to the beverage—and the people and place. The coffee shop was nestled into her own neighborhood and she could easily walk there—so she did, often. Chris worked at Forsyth hospital just up the road and popped by the coffee shop between shifts, finding her hard at work more often than not. Ever since Katie had moved to Raleigh, Lucy had felt lonely but Chris had filled that void and she was grateful—most of the time.

“Okay, so why didn’t you call him?” Chris asked sitting back down in the chair he’d left pulled out while at the counter.

“It’s too weird,” Lucy shook her head and traced to top of her mug with her index finger. “I don’t even know what I’d say.”

“How about… Hi?”

“Oh come on, you know what I mean,” Lucy insisted.

Chris studied her a minute. “You want to call him.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she shrugged and put her phone on the table, disconnecting her earbuds and winding them up to put in her shoulder bag. Chris reached out and took her phone. Privacy did not exist between close friends.

“Then why do you have his number stored in your phone?” he turned the device around to her, the florescent screen highlighting the contours of her face.

“Chris!” she screeched, reaching for the phone. But he was too fast. He snatched it away and kept scrolling, and she was too self-conscious to make any kind of public scene.

“Stored in your phone already, my my my.” He shook his head for dramatic effect.

“What’s stored in her phone?” Neither had noticed TJ come in, but he pulled another chair up to the tiny table, half blocking the walkway as he sat in it backward staring over his younger brother’s shoulder. “Who’s Saul?”

“Oh dear heaven?” Lucy buried her now blazing face in her hands. This was not how she pictured her morning going.

“The guy who hit on Lucy and asked her to call him twice now,” Chris said.2015/01/img_1970.jpg

“Why doesn’t he call her?” TJ asked.

“Black coffee?” the barista sat the mug on the bar just above TJ’s head. He reached up for it.

“Thanks doll,” he winked at her and, as most women did, she giggled at his flirtatious and irresistible smile. Lucy knew it was the dimple—she’d fallen prey to that eat your heart out smile herself more than once.

“She didn’t give him her number,” Chris waved the phone around bringing TJ’s attention back to the matter at hand. “But she wants to.”

TJ’s aristocratic brow rose as he took a sip of the steaming hot coffee—years ago he’d joked that drinking coffee since he was twelve had deadened the pain nerves in his mouth. Since he didn’t even flinch and Lucy could still see the stem rising out of the cup, she was inclined to agree.

“So, call him now,” TJ took the phone from Chris and handed it back to Lucy. She looked up from her laptop.

“I can’t do that,” she put the phone down on the table.

“Sure you can. ‘Open the gates and seize the day,’” TJ said.

“You can’t Newsies reference me into thinking this is a good idea,” Lucy said.

“Well how about,” TJ picked up the phone again and pressed a button. “If I just hit send. It’s ringing!”

“What?” Lucy, mortified looked at the now black screen which had only one option: End. She sat frozen staring at the screen listening to the distant ring.

TJ waved her on, motioning for her to put the phone up to her ear.

All sense had left Lucy as she listened to the end of the ringback tone growing louder and mixing with her heartbeat in her ear.

“Voicemail,” she whispered. “What do I do?”

“Leave a message,” TJ laughed and took a sip of coffee. He looked over at Chris, who frowned. TJ shrugged.

“Um, Saul,” Lucy started her message, her voice shaking. “It’s uh, Lucy from well, from dinner and the coffee house. Well, anyway, I don’t know what—I just—if you want to call. I mean you can—I’d like it if you did. Okay, um, bye.”

Lucy hung up and dropped the phone on the table. It clattered, shatter the tense silence between them.

“Lucy?” TJ couldn’t hide the laughter.

“Shut up.” Lucy could feel the heat radiating from her face—she wondered if melting into the seat was possible and how she could activate that power if it were.

“Lucy, it wasn’t so bad,” Chris said, the laughter in his own voice ill disguised as well, but at least his face looked a little more sympathetic.

“You shut up too,” she pushed her hair out of her face. She could feel the heat on her hand, her face was so hot. “I can’t believe you just did that to me.”

“Sure you can,” TJ laughed. “We’ve done far worse to you over the years.”

“I can’t think of a single thing worse than this,” Lucy moaned. “I’d even relive the frogs and spiders in the tent at camp in third grade! I feel so humiliated.” She shut the top of her laptop.

“Don’t be mad, Luce,” TJ reached over and covered her hand with his own.

Lucy looked down at her hand and felt her heart speed up. She opened her mouth to speak, but TJ beat her to it.

“We were just trying to help. You’re like a sister to us, like Katie,” he said. Lucy’s stomach dropped to her feet and she pulled herself free from his grasp. She shook her head.

“Tell Kaylee what you did,” she said, speaking of TJ’s latest girlfriend. “Better yet, tell Katie, then tell me if you still think it was the right thing to do.” Lucy slung her laptop bag over her shoulder and marched toward the door.

“Lucy,” Chris called after her. She paused, but didn’t turn around. “Don’t stay mad too long. You never know; this might be a good thing.”

Lucy sighed and turned. “I’m not mad,” she said, avoiding TJ’s gaze. “I just have to go. I have a meeting in twenty.”

She left the homey little coffee shop, feeling its eyes on her all the way home.

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Local Paragons Part II: Camino Bakery

Camino Bakery is located at 310 West Fourth Street in Winston Salem, North Carolina. They are well known for their fresh pastries and coffee drinks made with Krankies Railhead espresso (also local), housemade syrups, and Homeland Creamery (Julien, NC) milk.

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3                                                 Local color: <3 <3 <3 <3 <3


The smell of cinnamon and flour assaulted Lucy first, then the espresso, followed by the cacophony of voices. A veritable gaggle of locals mostly—all trying to escape the harsh winter winds that brought single digit temperatures but no snow.

North Carolina didn’t know what to do with snow anyway—ice, sure, but real snow was as rare as a three legged dog. And it shut everything down.

Lucy didn’t particularly like the cold, but she hated snow. Shivering in her hooded jacket, faux fur lined, she joined the line for a latte. The menu had changed again—winter drinks now. During the autumn she’d had a honey and cinnamon latte that she could still taste, and had dreams about every now and then. Now she would have to try something new.

Studying the menu she tried to ignore the delicacies in the clear case before her. Perfectly crafted soufflés, scones, custom pastries—at lunch she would sometimes duck in for the quiche, which (given the melt in your mouth pastry crust) she would never have guessed was flourless like many of their delectable treats. For this morning though, all she needed was the latte. It was going to be a long day working on the Miller-Jones wedding and she needed a good pick-me-up.

“What can I get you?”

Lucy smiled at the question. “French toast latte, please,” she ordered, pulling out a twenty to pay. Her phone rang as the girl handed back her change and Lucy slid to the side to wait on her order. Looking down at her work phone, Lucy groaned. She would be at the office soon, why couldn’t this wait for fifteen minutes until she got there?

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“What is it, Mark?” she asked a little impatiently—she listened as her assistant started to hyperventilate.  Finally she interrupted. “Mark, you’re going to have to breathe. I can’t really understand you. I’ll be there in like twenty minutes.”

“Lucy, the flowers, they delivered the wrong flowers,” Mark managed to say more coherently this time.

“Then call them and tell them to correct the mistake. Who signed for them?” Lucy shifted the phone to her other ear as she balanced her laptop bag on her shoulder.

“Theresa. The florist says they won’t take them back since someone signed for them,” Mark’s voice raised an octave. Lucy looked up at the ceiling. Working with dramatic people drove her batty sometimes—but she was an event planner at the Marriot. Dramatics came with the territory. Weddings were the worst.

“Get the wedding planner on the phone,” Lucy sighed. And working with a third party never worked out well—Theresa had a good eye, but she was flaky. “Tell her to meet me in the ballroom in thirty minutes. We’ll talk to the florist together. And Mark, you need to calm down. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened and I doubt it will be the last.”

Lucy hung up the phone.

“Americano. French toast latte.”

Adjusting her bag, Lucy turned back toward the counter to get her latte, her hand brushing the hand of Americano’s owner as she did so.

“Sorry,” Lucy murmured without looking up from her latte.

“No problem,” his smooth voice floated over her, sparking something in her memory. Lucy’s forehead wrinkled, as her eyes flickered up. Saul’s smile reached all the way to the corners of his mossy green eyes. “So is that why you didn’t call me?”

“I—“ Lucy blinked, her bag dropped from her shoulder to the crook of her elbow, spilling droplet of latte from the top of the lid to her thumb. Saul reached for a napkin and handed it to her while she readjusted the bag on her arm.

“Okay?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she murmured.

“So, how are the wedding plans?”

Lucy’s head popped up again. “What wedding plans?”

“I couldn’t help but overhear. Mark, wasn’t it?” He pointed to the phone that she still held in her hand. Saul was casually mixing the tiniest bit of cream into his coffee and not even enough sugar to taste. “I assume that’s why you never called.” He flashed her his dimpled grin.

Lucy looked stupidly at her phone. “Mark?”

“Your fiancé?” he asked.

“My what?” Lucy shook her head. “Oh no, Mark is my assistant.” She laughed now, shaking her phone back and forth. “We were talking about work.”

“Oh?” Saul leaned against the counter.

“Yes.”

“Cappuccino.”

“Excuse me,” a little woman with a tight bun leaned in between them and grabbed the cappuccino, but neither Saul nor Lucy moved far—just enough to allow her to get her beverage.

“So, Mark is your assistant. You are a…”

“I’m an event planner,” Lucy supplied. “I work for the Marriot.” She gestured with the latte, then looked down, flustered, and grateful it hadn’t spilled again.

“Ah, that explains the flowers and wedding planner comment then.”

“Yes. We do all kinds of events there, weddings, conferences, fundraisers…” Lucy trailed off, realizing she was rambling.

“So why didn’t you call then?” he asked, taking a sip of his coffee.

“Café latte. Americano. French toast latte.”

“I think we’re in the way,” Lucy said. Looking at the three drinks on the counter in front of them. Saul smiled, a dimple forming on his left cheek. He took a step closer to her so people could get to their drinks at the counter. Lucy could no longer smell the spices of the coffee shop, as her senses filled with cologne—fresh, but masculine. Tommy maybe?

“You’re evading,” he said.

“It’s weird,” she said. Lucy looked at her latte cup.

“Weird?”

“To call a stranger? It felt weird.”

“Well,” he glanced up. “We’re not strangers any more. I’m Saul and I work at Hutch and Harris when I’m not attending classes at Wake for Med School, and you’re Lucy—you work at the Marriot as an event planner. And we’re standing in Camino Bakery under the mistletoe.”

“We’re what,” Lucy followed his gaze. Hanging right above their head was a sprig of mistletoe.

“Must be left over from the holidays,” he shrugged. Lucy’s eyes dropped back down to his. He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. “Call me?”

Lucy was still standing there, mouth open as Saul waved from the other side of the window, hurrying down the sidewalk of Fourth Street.

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Local Paragons Part I: Hutch and Harris

Hutch and Harris is a restaurant located at 424 West Fourth Street in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The menu and restaurant are excellent and the pictures provided were taken from an actual recent dining experience. The story itself is fictional (I like to take some experiences at these local paragons and weave them into this new fabricated story about Lucy).

Food: <3 <3 <3 <3                                                          Local color: <3 <3 <3 <3


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Downtown Winston Salem still slept, recovering from ushering in the New Year. Lucy St. James climbed out of her twelve year old silver Ford Focus, the echo of the door reverberating down Fourth Street. Glancing down at her watch, the daisies ticked toward seven—she was a few minutes early.

“You’re supposed to kiss him!” the photographer’s flash illuminated the night air. She steadied it on her shoulder as she called out to the couple in the middle of the crosswalk. Lucy laughed, and the photographer exchanged glances with her. “I guess they didn’t get the memo.”

“Guess not. Cute shot though,” Lucy said. The couple hurried to the other side of the street as the light turned and traffic started moving again.

“Yes, as long as they don’t get hit,” the photographer laughed and waved as Lucy crossed the street. The couple was coming back to the middle of the other crosswalk when Lucy passed them. The girl’s foot popped up behind her as she kissed her fiancé, diamond ring sparkling in the white twinkle lights still strung over Hutch and Harris’ awning.

The patio, deserted in January, spread open and welcome as Lucy sidestepped the metal anchors and entered the downtown restaurant.

“Welcome to Hutch and Harris.” The host stood behind the podium, showing his straightened teeth.

“Good evening,” Lucy smiled and tossed one of her black braids over her shoulder. “I have a reservation for seven—under St. James.”

“Ah, yes. We have you all set up, Ms. St. James, right this way.”

“Thank you.” Lucy followed the host back to the booth on the left side of the restaurant. Normally Hutch and Harris was a buzz of activity—but it was still early.

“The specials for this evening,” he handed her a printed page. “Your server will be right with you.”

Lucy smiled, glancing down at the dancing daisies again. Katie, Phoebe and Tia would be here soon. Her favorite part of the holidays was getting together with her friends—they didn’t get to see each other often enough now that they lived in different cities and—

“Lucy!” Tia tumbled into the other side of the booth. “I can’t believe how great you look. What a great restaurant, great choice.”

“Hey, Tia,” Lucy barely got the greeting out before Katie’s infectious laugh filled the restaurant. Lucy could feel the smile spreading from one side of her face to the other. “Well, that makes three of four. Where’s Phoebe?”

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She’s not going to make it,” Katie tossed her phone on the table and shrugged out of her coat. “Stephen isn’t feeling well. She said to make sure to order the crabcake sandwich in honor of her.”

“Oh crabcakes,” Tia grabbed the menu and began reading out loud. “That sounds divine. With mac and cheese. Y-to the um.”

“I’ll pass,” Lucy took the menu from Tia and perused it herself. She didn’t particularly care for seafood. “But El Kentucky looks pretty good—fried chicken, pico de gallo—can’t really go wrong with that.”

“And I bet they come with pickles.”

“I love pickles.”

Katie laughed. “I know.”

“Good evening, ladies. My name is Saul and I’ll be your cruise director this evening—to start off our slate of activities can I get you some wine? It’s Thirsty Thursday—1/2 price on our bottles.”

“Oh that sounds great—“ Katie grabbed the wine menu. “What about the Gugenheim?”

“Great choice.” He winked, then said, “Waters all around.”

The girls nodded and he bounded off.

“He’s pretty nice looking,” Katie said. She lifted an aristocratic brow and elbowed Lucy.

“Katie!” Lucy rolled her eyes. Tapping her fingers on the table, she couldn’t help but compare her left hand to that of her friends—a noticeably bare hand. “I’m not looking for a date here.”

“I’m just saying,” she shrugged her shoulders. “How’s work?”

“Nice segue,” Tia laughed, taking the wine now proffered to her.

“Work’s—work,” Lucy shrugged. “And this wine is phenomenal.”

“Has a nice peppery taste,” Katie smacked her lips together before sitting her wine glass back on the table. Tia swirled her wine around in the glass.

“Have we decided what we want ladies?” Saul asked. He came to the table—no pad, but with a professional smile that told the ladies he knew what he was doing.

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Tia ordered the crabcake, mac and cheese combo, Lucy had El Kentucky with sweet potato fries while Katie went with the special—a duck with a spicy glaze and wasabi sauce.

“Your mouth is going to be on fire,” Lucy shook her head as Saul walked away.

“I like it hot, what can I say,” Katie shrugged.

“Oh, what would Jaime say to that?” Tia arched a brow.

“I imagine he knows all about it,” Lucy commented.

“Luce!” Katie looked at her appalled.

“What? My filter starts shutting down after four,” Lucy laughed. “Besides, I’m turning thirty this year. I have some kind of right to unfliter now, right?”

“We’re all turning thirty,” Tia commented. “We should do something.”

“Nothing we can do,” Katie shrugged.

“Katie!”

“What, I’m not interested in a murder murder suicide thing, so we have to kind of accept it.”

“I meant,” Tia threw her napkin across the table at Katie. “That we should celebrate. Take a trip. Be somewhere tropical with little umbrellas in our drinks or something.”

Lucy sat up straighter, her almond eyes widening a little. “I’m down.”

“What do you think, Katie?” Tia asked. “Could you get away from Jaime and—“

“Baby Boo?” Katie’s laugh rang through the restaurant. “Yeah, I can probably swing it. Jamie can watch Billy.”

“Awesome, we should totally start planning this.”

The food arrived, displayed on white ceramic plates and begging in all its beautiful glory to be eaten.

Lucy’s phone rang.

“Ugh!” Katie groaned swatting at Lucy as she reached for the offending object. “Don’t answer it. We’re eating.”

Lucy looked down at the number. “It’s my sister,” her brow wrinkled. “She doesn’t usually call me.”

“I guess we’ll let it slide this time,” Tia waved her fork, laden with mac and cheese at her. Lucy answered the phone.

“Hello?” Lucy moved the fries around with her fork. Suddenly she stopped playing with the fries. “What? Oh my. Yeah. I can be there in like half an hour.”

“What’s going on?” Katie and Tia looked at Lucy, who was already starting to gather her coat.

“My sister’s water just broke,” Lucy laughed.

“How is everything?” Saul returned to the table, a white cloth napkin now over his shoulder. “That bad? You’re running out on it?”

“Oh no,” Lucy laughed as she pulled on her gloves, “But I do need my check—my sister’s on the way to the hospital and I have to get to her house—the neighbors are watching her son until I get there.”

“Ah,” Saul nodded. “I certainly know the joys of nieces and nephews. I’ll be right back.”

“I thought your sister wasn’t due until February.”

“She wasn’t,” Lucy laughed again and tossed her purse strap over her head. “Guess baby girl was ready to meet the world now.”

“And here is your box,” Saul passed the Styrofoam box to her. “With a little added artistic flair, because otherwise, it’s just a to-go box. And congratulations to your sister.”

“Thanks,” Lucy took the box as Saul walked away. “Katie, can you?” she passed the box over to her, while she pulled out her cash.

“Ummm, Luce?”

“What?” Lucy put her cash in with the check and started to scoot out, but Katie wouldn’t move. “Katie, what is up with you?”

“Looks like you got more than a cartoon on your to-go box,” she opened up the inside further for Lucy to see. Inside was Saul’s name, and his digits.

Katie couldn’t smile any wider.

Lucy slammed the lid to the to-go box down, her face flaming.

“What are you going to do?” Tia asked, kicking Lucy under the table.

“Right now? I’m going to my sister’s,” She pushed Katie out of the booth and headed for the front door, “Call me when you figure out where we’re going.” She said over her shoulder, leaving the restaurant with a flourish—to-go box firmly under her arm.

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