The lovely retro starlet owner is no longer there. She sold the business, and it just hasn't been the same. They still have the same free-trade coffee. They still have many of the same employees that I absurdly think of as "my barista" when I see them on the street.
Aside: What gives? Why does spell check recognize sitarist and not barista? They must have outsourced the coding to India.
They no longer have the Caffe Paradiso debit cards that made my life so convenient. I know I could use my Visa, but a little piece of me died when I gave up my coffee card.
They no longer play the same music. Instead of hearing something interesting that I've never heard and kind of dig, I usually hear something I don't particularly care to hear again.
They no longer have great service. Oh sure, I used to kvetch about getting shorted by Scruffy Barista Girl, but at least I got underserved quickly. Now it takes forever even when there isn't a line, because the new owners have under staffed the place.
The crowd of hipsters, townies, and coeds is largely a thing of the past. The last few times I've been in there, the place has been almost empty. It used to buzz and now it's a mortuary. I almost always get mine to go, so it's not such a big deal, but I did enjoy the company while I waited.
I have a theory.
I don't know the old owner. I haven't asked her why she sold the place. But here's the thing. It happened not too long before the new Starbucks opened in Urbana, and I think she saw the writing on the wall. There had been one on campus, but campus is a pain in the ass to get to, because the U of I is afraid to tell the students to stay the fuck out of the streets because cars drive there. They're smart enough to get into the U of I, but not smart enough to look both ways before they cross the street.
Caffe Paradiso is technically on campus, but it's on the edge, on a major thoroughfare, and it's really just across the street from not-campus. So people could get to it. It wasn't in the deepest darkest heart of campus in the maze of one-way streets and bus-only routes and no parking, like, say, the campus Starbucks. But now there's a new Starbucks. And now my coffee shop sucks. Thanks. Way to go.
So, as much as it sucks for the people involved, hearing this brightened my day, just a little.