By Kevin Kelley
Westlake Porter Public Library Director Andrew Mangels said he has already received inquiries from vendors interested in operating a cafe in the facility’s lobby.
Picc-A-Deli Cafe at Porter Library, which had served sandwiches, hot dogs and other food at the library, closed Friday.
Bob Plantz, president of the library’s board of trustees, said he hated to see the cafe close. “The patrons really liked it,” he said, adding that it was unusual for cafes to operate inside public libraries.
Mangels said the Picc-A-Deli Cafe offered a convenient service. “Their hot dogs were great,” he said, adding that the cafe was especially popular with young
children and their parents after morning storytime sessions.
Mangels and Plantz said their inclination is to find another vendor to operate a cafe in the same location. But both said the vendor would have to be an established restaurant operator.
The trustees will hold a committee meeting in the next few weeks to make a definite decision on what to do with the space, located in the lobby area of the library. After the board’s Feb. 20 meeting, the board may issue a formal request for proposals from restaurant owners interested in operating a cafe at the library, Mangels said.
Picc-A-Deli paid rent to operate the cafe, Mangels said. The library director said he is optimistic that another restaurateur could be successful operating a cafe at Porter.
Picc-A-Deli opened in November 2004, a little more that two years after the library reopened following an expansion and renovation. The space occupied by Picc-A-Deli was always intended for use as a cafe, Mangels said.
Even so, the space has limitations, such as the lack of a stove. “It was never designed as a working kitchen,” Mangels said.
Porter officials will likely take two months or so to review proposals, the library director said. In the meantime, the cafe space will likely be used as a meeting room in the evenings, Mangels said. If a cafe operator is not found, the space could permanently be used as a meeting room, computer training room or additional lobby space.
In its initial announcement of the cafe’s closing, Porter’s website stated that Picc-A-Deli’s main location on Center Ridge Road would also be closing. But Picc-A-Deli owner Trish Koodrich said this was not true. The announcement on the library’s website has since been changed to indicate that only Picc-A-Deli’s library location was closing.
“The main location is still open,” she said. “We are operating as we always have.”
Koodrich said the library location was closed due to an increase in competition from other cafe-type restaurants.
“We had eight years of great success, in our opinion,” she said of the library cafe.