HOLYOKE — On a recent Tuesday afternoon, radiology student Lisa Bihler pumped cream into her coffee at a countertop condiments bar.
Another customer grabbed a raspberry yogurt smoothie and headed back to work upstairs. One woman browsed the magazine rack, while her daughter selected a baby present.
They were not at the Holyoke Mall this afternoon, nor at a new downtown café. They were enjoying the spacious, modernized ambiance of the new Gift & Coffee Shop at Holyoke Medical Center, where business is booming.
“It’s spacious, it’s very well-lit, it’s bright, and yet it’s still inviting,” said Linda Porten, chairwoman of the shop for the Holyoke Medical Center Auxiliary Association, which utilizes all Gift & Coffee Shop proceeds to purchase needed hospital equipment, such as defibrillators.
The revamped Gift & Coffee Shop, celebrating its 50th birthday this year, opened the week before Thanksgiving. As part of phase 1 of the $11.1 million hospital building renovation project, it moved from a cozy but overcrowded corner space on the hospital’s first floor to its present location, twice the size, just inside the new, brightly sunlit main entrance of the new medical center building.
Customers are greeted with the same smiles and personal attention they received in the intimate former setting, assured shop Supervisor Ann Marie Fite, while enjoying a more spacious and efficient environment, with a broader selection of offerings in gifts, snacks, magazines, and breakfast and lunchtime fare.
In spite of its new look, the menu at the Gift and Coffee Shop is one thing that hasn’t changed too much. “We kept all the old favorites,” Fite said. “You can still get your ham and pickle sandwich, or your egg and olive sandwich, just like you could in the 1950s.” In addition, freshly made sandwiches are now available, along with fruit juices, sports drinks, yogurt smoothies, chef salads, grinders, and pita roll-ups made fresh daily, as well as cookies, mega-muffins, danishes, and bagels with cream cheese.
The Gift & Coffee Shop, now open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, will soon expand its hours, remaining open until 6 or 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and also opening on Saturdays, said Fite. In the spring and summer, the shop will feature outdoor patio seating.