Judy’s Java Closure a Major Loss to Downtown Elkton

We were saddened to learn at the Town Meeting this evendsc_0123ing that our favorite hangout in downtown Elkton, Judy’s Java, closed.  “We had our final night Friday,” Kathy Wareham informed the commissioners.  “It hurts to see the decline.  The way we are losing businesses in Elkton, it’s heartbreaking. . . It is very disturbing to see the empty shops in town,” she added.

In an a discussion with the commissioners about business conditions, Katy told them that the recent loss of Triangle Health was a major problem since she had dozens of regular customers from that agency.  Triangle didn’t go out of business, they expanded so they moved out to Route 40, Commissioner Jablonski pointed out, but Kathy noted that didn’t help the central business district.  Commissioner Storke talked about what the town had tried to do keep over 200 county workers on Main Street early in 2008 because the board recognized the economic impact that would have. “That was the coldest meeting [county commissioners] I have ever been to.  They had already made up their mind,” Commissioner Storke noted.  “If you go to Bel Air, there are so many specialty shops and Elkton can be like that,” the owner of Judy’s Java encouragingly concluded.

Earlier in the meeting Commissioner Givens asked about a report that was on the desk of each of the board members about downtown business conditions.  To that Commissioner Jablonski indicated that as the Elkton Alliance Director she had prepared the document for the state so she was sharing it with the board.  Thus when the discussion about Judy’s Java came up at the end of the session, she provided some of the data.  “Downtown Elkton is holding its own,” the Elkton Alliance Director said.  The vacancy rate is 8% for downtown, the Big Elk Mall is 26% and the Village of Elkton is 22%.”  A citizen later asked if there weren’t 10 vacant buildings in the business area and lawyers and bail bondsmen made up a lot of the other occupancies.  Commissioner Givens added that the past is the past and we’ve got to recognize where we are.  “What are we going to do to revamp,” he asked?  Additional discussion about the central business district followed Kathy’s presentation and we’ll have much more on that in future pieces over the next couple of days.

Kathy Wareham, the owner brought new energy and an expanded focus to what was already a great coffeehouse for any community, building on a product established by Judy Hart.  The comfortable gathering spot was approaching its second anniversary in May. Kathy assembled an outstanding staff of young people.  They served up coffee, tea, and specialty drinks, but they had more than the brews including creative sandwiches.  And they weren’t going to just let Elkton drink Coffee.  They provided a place to dsc_0121gather on Friday evenings, for it was a coffeehouse that allowed people to express themselves with entertainment, readings, and so much more.

That old 1950s firehouse was a comfortable place to sit around and meet people. Anytime we had to meet someone in Elkton, we always said meet us at Judy’s Java. It had the right atmosphere and ambiance.  It was something for Elkton to be proud of.  Such fine coffeehouses are usually found in college towns and places that have lots of tourists like North East.  Such gathering spots are an important ingredient in revitalizing a town, a place for the community to gather and meet people

We’ll miss Judy’s Java and the great staff of young people providing excellent service and conversation in Elkton.  Thanks Kathy, Shannon Sharon and the entire gang for an excellent two years.


3 responses to “Judy’s Java Closure a Major Loss to Downtown Elkton

  1. Judy’s Java provided Elkton with a quality place for people to gather for conversation, a casual lunch or snack, a cup of coffee or tea or an upgraded variation. The staff at Judy’s Java added to that sense of community with genuine smiles, soft humor, and dependable service. Cathy created a cultural setting with the open mic nights on Friday nights and special events. Wireless service was there for those who desired the opportunity to go online. In vibrant towns, you will find at least one of these coffeehouses filled with community energy and vitality; generally, the more vibrant the town, the more of these places you will find.

    Elkton did not simply lose another business. Judy’s Java was a place of warmth , laughter, and sense of community in the heart of town. With Judy’s Java gone the heartbeat of downtown Elkton grows fainter.

  2. Judy’s Java and the wonderful people who who worked there will be sorely missed. The cafe was an ornament to the community, providing Eltkon town residents and visitors with fine food and beverages, excellent service and a cheery ambiance that was unique to the town. I will miss the Bananas Foster coffee, the warmth of the sunlight streaming through the front windows, the lpong converstations with friends and the smiles of the staff. I consider the closing of Jud’s to be major blow to the local social scene.

  3. Milt:

    Well put. Thanks so much for posting your personal observations.

    We see Jon, our gourmet food critic, in the zone stopped by to. Thanks Jon for posting about the Cafe.

    It will be missed for it added a lot to the attempt to bring life back downtown. It’s loss has an overall impact on that attempt, just as the loss of those hundreds of jobs did.

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