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The Story Behind Shoe’s Cup and Cork

So, I got this key… Well, actually, I had to drive over and go get the key from the guy who wouldn’t get out of the bed because he had the flu.

But, regardless of that little “bump in the road,” this key I got opened the door to “Shoe’s Cup and Cork Club.”

So, the first thing I said to myself is, “Self” (which is what I call my self) “Self, sell it!”

“Sell it!; use the proceeds to buy a Winnebago; leave town; drive to Durango; and get on with life! Geez, you’re not getting any patio at Shoes coffeeyounger, you know. Who needs a Cup and Cork Club anyway? And, for that matter, what the heck is a Cup and Cork Club?”

Then I went inside…

And I started to cry.

I remembered introducing Chai Lattes to my two best friends in the world.

I remembered pointing out the building to Elaine… but then recalled that she never actually saw it open.

I got my shoes re-soled here. I remember that unique… (ahem) customer service attitude back then (it almost seemed as if there was an attempt at continuity when it reopened as a coffee shop). But, hey, it’s a coffee shop: if you don’t get it, you don’t get it!

I remembered the look on his face when we first talked about it… the “Supper Club,” then the “Cup and Cork Club,” I was going to make his dream come true! I was going to be his hero (and have a cool place to hang out). I love that.

But, whether our differences were philosophical or operational, I now lament how instead of bringing us closer together it became a stressor… driving a wedge between us. He delays now before he responds with “I love you.” We were close once, but now we’re not anymore.

But, this quirky, beautiful old treasure of a building still stands, across from this quirky courthouse where I danced on the lawn to Africa’s heartthrob in front of a Confederate Soldier. (And, where I argued the second most unfair ticket ever issued.)

“Sell it! Get money! It’s a sh***y little building. It’s all dilapidated and crap,” says my (trash mouth) seventeen (OMG, now eighteen?) year old. “Sell it,” says my banker, my lawyer and my shrink! “SELL IT!” screamed my first spouse. “Who’s gonna run it? And, if the last guy didn’t listen to you, do you think the next one will?” I decided I was going to call the realtor and seal the deal; but then the phone rang…

My sister called, “Let’s get a bagel and lox at Shoes.”

“It’s closed,” I said, flatly. I told her how I went there with you know who for breakfast the day after Christmas and people were just milling around the locked door at 9 in the morning. There was no motion inside. Were they just late today? There were no signs. No clue as to what was going on. Nothing!

I thought maybe ‘The Boss’ slept in or took another walkabout to Philly or something, but when I called him… he said he just gave up… and scowled at me over the phone… the hung up to revel in his “flu.”

“Wegman’s or Starbucks are open. Why don’t we go there?” I asked my sister.

“Why would we?” she said. shoes coffee bar interior

(Is she this dense?) “Well for one thing,” I lectured, “they’re open… Plus, they have plenty of free parking.”

“Yeah, but Starbucks doesn’t have lox,” she retorted, it’s always an argument with her, just like the old days.

“Neither does Shoes, it’s closed. Besides, Wegman’s does have lox.” Argument over.

The little brat: “Yeah, but Shoes has something neither of them have.”

“And, what’s that, loads of sub-prime debt?”

“No smart alec. Shoes has Soul. Shoes has the old soul of Leesburg trapped in its walls.”

“Don’t you mean the old ‘soles’ S-O-L-E-S since it was, you know, a shoe repair place?” (We actually found a bunch of them–tickets and all–found a pair of missing stiletto kittens from the Big Band era when we renovated.)

“No, I mean ‘Soul’ S-O-U-L. And since you own the building, you’re responsible for its Soul. And, that my dear, is big responsibility… one can’t just walk away from the soul of a town.”

“This is not Bedford Falls, you know,” I protested.

“Yes it IS! And Shoes is that crummy old Building and Loan. If you don’t save it… there will be nowhere for the counter-culture to eat… or legally deface walls. This town needs this measly one-horse institution if only to have some placed where people can come without crawling to Potter.”

“Who’s Potter?” I asked.

“A guy from a movie, but don’t get hung up on that. What matters is that YOU can actually do something about this situation. You can reopen it. You can SOS this whole town.”

“Aren’t you getting a bit melodramatic?” I protested, “It’s got no kitchen, no parking, no zoning, and no money; It’s got broke cyber-squatters who hate coffee more than eye contact…”

“You sound like dad when he’s losing at Monopoly,” she interrupted, “Who cares what you don’t have… Shoes has SOUL! And, that soul is now in your hands…IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!



And with that, I drove back here and lifted up the latch that only Leesburgers could figure out. I flipped on the lights; slumped into a squeaky chair; and, I started calculating my carrying costs. I was mentally prepared to sell out to “The Man,” when the long dead bulb behind the Shoe Repair sign hanging over the counter miraculously and loudly buzzed to life. That’s the point when I realized, “I can fix it, I can rebuild it, I can make it better than it was before.”

So, I locked it up again to go home with the plan to rebuild Shoes in my dreams. Shoes would be re-soled… It would walk again. The next morning I called up my good old boy connections: “Round up the boys to assess the situation. Shore up the rotting floors, scrape away the ground in coffee stains, look for lost change in the seat cushions to finance the repairs; but Save the Soul of Shoes.”

And, that’s why Shoes is being re-soled!