May 2, 2010
Jerry and The Cookie Lady
I'd usually pull in around 6:30 a.m., Jerry had the coffee made and maybe a deputy sheriff or two had already arrived. Downtown is nice in the early morning, most of the unsavory characters are not early risers. Jerry had opened the coffee and cold sandwich shop in around 2004 in the 500 Block of Hamilton Street. By 7:30 several City Councilmen, a few cops, a couple of gadflies and other assorted early morning types would be pontificating on solutions for Allentown. It sure didn't hurt Allentown to have twenty or so gainfully employed people start their day on Hamilton Street. Jerry had started his shop the old fashion way, with his own money. Toward the end of 2005, to accommodate several customers, Jerry made a few eggs on a flat George Forman Grill. Come 2006, the new regime insisted on a code compliant grill, exhaust and fire suppression system, for a couple eggs; The necessary architectural drawings alone would cost thousands. Because his location in the building didn't lend itself to a feasible exhaust system, Jerry was forced to relocate. Again, totally with his own money, Jerry moved his shop up to the corner of 7th and Hamilton. I'll spare all the details, but he could have built a nuclear reactor with no more bureaucracy. Jerry will never recoup his investment (his life savings) because the city closed the building in 2008 because of violations on upper floors which were not in use. That abuse of power is chronicled on several posts on this blog.
Vicky, the cookie lady, opened her very small shop about the same time the city was forcing Jerry out of business. Her shop, Vicky's Sweet Spot, opened in a building operated by one developer who received multiple facade grants from the city. These locations are easily identifiable from the same appearance, stained wood fronts. Although Vicky's shop is only about 250 sq. ft., only sold coffee and cookies, she received a $10,000 restaurant grant from The City of Allentown. Her grant and other similar ones are chronicled on several posts on this blog and of course she was introduced on Allentown Good News. I patronized her shop several times. The last time, right before she closed the business earlier this year, I noticed she was making eggs on a small grill.
I shouldn't have to elaborate on the conclusions, but there are so many apologists in this city, let me spell it out. One man invests his life savings, works his butt off, and gets nothing but grief from City Hall. Another person gets set up for a free ride at taxpayer expense. Vicky's, even after first opening, kept irregular hours and was often closed. I doubt if the whole show; rent, equipment, etc. used up the 10 grand; maybe that's why she called it the Sweet Spot.
reprinted from Aug. 18, 2009
related story: The Morning Call