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Hampton Coffee Co. opens café inside Center Moriches Library

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Center Moriches residents have a new spot to sit by the fire, sip coffee and crack open a good book.

The Center Moriches Free Public Library hosted a grand opening celebration for its new Hampton Coffee Co. café on Sunday.

The library is no longer home to just fiction and nonfiction. Guests can now check out hot and iced beverages, such fresh baked goods as muffins and croissants, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and soups of the day.

Inside the café, people can enjoy their snacks and hot drinks while reading a newspaper at bar-top seating along the wall. Students and remote workers can use the electrical, USB and USB-C ports awaiting their gear.

Just beyond the café lies a cozy lounge area to sit, sip and read. In addition to large purple chairs, there’s a bookcase of oversized coffee table books, family board games and a puzzle table. There’s even a fireplace donated by the Friends of the Center Moriches Free Public Library.

Marcie Litjens, the library’s director, said the project has been in the works for three years. She and the library’s board of trustees looked at similar set-ups in other libraries on Long Island and out-of-state. Then they began a search for the right local coffee vendor and planned a lounge area.

“The goal was to bring other people into the library who normally wouldn’t come and utilize the space here,” Litjens said. “It’s welcoming and inviting and nothing goes better with books than a cup of coffee.”

Coffee: A community service

While it may attract more community members, the board hopes the caffeine pickup, work area and lounge boosts the library’s reputation as an essential service in the community.

“Parents come for children’s programs and a number of times they say it would be nice to have a cup of coffee, it would be nice to have a place to sit and have a snack,” Virginia Tyson, the president of the board of trustees, said. “We now have an area where they can plug in and sit and work.”

“Libraries aren’t just about books anymore,” she added. “It’s about services.”

With its own entrance along the building its Montauk Highway side, caffeine-craving commuters are welcomed daily from 6 a.m.-5 p.m.

Around noon when Litjens cut the ribbon at the café Sunday, dozens of community members packed into the library for brews and breakfast pastries.

“The reception has been literally everything we could hope for,” Edythe Collins, a spokeswoman for Hampton Coffee Co. said. “Families are coming out, it feels like every other customer says that they can walk here. They’re coming with their dogs, with their kids, it’s everything we could hope for.”

The café hosted a friends and family soft opening Saturday, prior to its larger celebration on Sunday. In lieu of charging for food and drinks, owners Jason and Theresa Belkin asked customers to donate to the Friends of the Center Moriches Free Public Library.

On Sunday, the couple presented the GROUP with a check for $693.

“We’re excited to be here,” Jason Belkin said. “Customers and community members have been coming out, amazingly. We get an (job) application almost everyday from the high school so local kids are going to work here, which is so nice. We’re so happy to be a part of the community already.”

Please scroll down to see photos of the new Hampton Coffee Co. café at the library.