By Bob Uphues
Commuters and anyone else who may be in a position to visit Riverside's downtown train station during the morning and evening rush hours will again be able to pick up some sweet treats – and, for this year at least, a cup of hot coffee -- during the upcoming holiday season.
For the second consecutive year, the Riverside Village Board voted to issue a license to Chocolate Twist to operate a pop-up store there from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31.
Meanwhile, the village board is slated to approve a similar license agreement this week to allow Flur to sell coffee and gluten-free muffins and baked goods to commuters from a pop-up of its own from Nov. 27 through Dec. 22. Unlike Chocolate Twist, which does not have a brick-and-mortar location, Flur operates a retail and catering operation from a storefront just steps away from the train station in the Arcade Building at 1 Riverside Road.
The pop-up shops will be located in the east end of the station in the area formerly known as the "baggage room." The space previously housed Soul Amici Express, a catering business/coffee shop, from 2009 to 2012.
According to Kate Coffey, Chocolate Twist will be inside the station for the morning rush only, between 5:30 and 9 a.m.
Flur's pop-up hours, according to the license agreement that will be approved by the village board at its meeting on Nov. 16, would be from 6 to 9:30 a.m. on weekdays.
The Chocolate Twist pop-up shop will also be open from 9 a.m. until early afternoon on Saturdays, Coffey said.
Chocolate Twist's pop-up shop will highlight this year's new seasonal caramels and chocolates – like the new for 2017 whiskey and smoked walnut chocolate bar and gingerbread and orange chocolate bar and cardamom, lemon and white chocolate bar. Most of Chocolate Twist's regular line will be for sale as well.
You can pick up a treat for yourself or for the folks at the office. You can also place an order for a gift set that you can pick up at the pop-up shop the next day, said Coffey.
"One thing we learned was that people give a lot of holiday gifts at work,' Coffey said. "It's a great place for last-minute gifts for assistants or clients. People make fast decisions and get in and out."
One thing you won't find at the pop-up shop? That annoying, non-stop holiday music.
"I refuse to play Christmas music," Coffey said.
Neither pop-up tenant will be charged license fees or rent to operate their train station stores. Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances said part of the reason for that is because the village would like to attract another long-term tenant for the east wing of the station.
The pop-ups give a potential long-term tenant ideas on how that space can be filled and best managed, Frances said.
Soul Amici did pay license fees and rent, said Frances, but that business also had exclusive use of that part of the train station. That also meant Soul Amici was required to pay property taxes on the space, a factor in that business leaving the station. Since the pop-ups share the space with the village, the property tax requirement isn't triggered, said Frances.
Frances said she has received inquiries from other businesses about opening pop-up locations at the train station, but the roof replacement project has been something of an obstacle this year,
Early next year, the village will also undertake repairs to the station's interior plaster walls and give the rooms a new coat of paint. That work will be bid in another month or so, said Frances.
The work is expected to begin in February, after an event in the station scheduled for January by the Frederick Law Olmsted Society. The Riverside Historical Commission's exhibit inside the station will be taken down while the interior improvements are completed.