South Charlotte

Regulars abuzz about coffee shop

"I had the French Toast Latte yesterday, and I just had to get it again today," said Genny Knight, sipping her coffee concoction at Dilworth Coffee House in downtown Matthews.

Knight was sitting at a high-top table with three other women, all room parents at Covenant Day School. They meet at Dilworth Coffee for their organizational meeting because, as Sheri Jarvie said, "It's a quiet place to meet that's well-located."

The coffee house is filled with people, some bent over laptops, others perusing a book or newspaper, some lingering while others rush out with their kids in tow.

For Les Grattan, who runs a pest control company, the coffee shop is his office.

"I work out of my van," he said. "So it's nice to be able to pop in here to do e-mails and take care of scheduling and payroll."

Elgin Kenna, 50, is owner and manager of Dilworth Coffee House. Leah Titus, 22, is one of Kenna's employees who worked at the shop when it first opened, then returned after attending college at East Carolina University.

Kenna and Titus relish interacting with the customers and love, as Titus puts it, "the small-town family atmosphere" in Matthews.

The business opened in 2004.

"We're very local and very community-oriented," said Kenna, pointing out that their busiest morning is Saturday, when all of the downtown businesses benefit from visitors to the local farmers market.

Weekdays bring parents dropping children off at school, folks on their way to work and a handful of devoted regulars.

Joan and Art Brokaw, both in their 80s, stop by at least four mornings each week.

"We practically live here," said Joan Brokaw, saying her husband comes an additional day each week to meet some of his friends. "They invite me to tag along," she said, but she declines because "the boys need their morning out."

Also stopping by after shuttling their kids to school are Christina Lazar, Jen Carroll and Traci Carpenter. "Our kids' preschool is right around the corner," said Carpenter.

Carpenter and Lazaar had their toddlers with them, while Lazar said it was the first day of preschool and that she was "trying not to cry."

To ensure the Dilworth Coffee House gives back to the community, Kenna said, he donates coffee "pretty much any time anyone asks for a donation."

He also hosts local book signings, has artists set up to sketch patrons for a fee and hosts Lap Top Tuesday, when a computer expert offers free computer assistance 8-10 a.m.