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Bean Town

Three new places to get your coffee fix.



If you're like us, you take your morning brew in the afternoon as well. Even in the evening, if there's a slice of pie to accompany.

Fortunately, Memphis has three new spots to grab a cup of joe: Qahwa Coffee Bar on North Main, Bella Caffe in the Pink Palace Museum, and The Edge Coffeehouse, which recently relocated from Overton Park Avenue to South Cooper.

Qahwa Coffee Bar, named after the Arabic word for coffee, is the second local business venture for owner Farhat "Fred" Othmani. When the ex-marine and Tunisian native came to Memphis in 1990, he began a limousine service, Sfax Limousines. But he had a different business model in mind when he set his sights on the empty space at 109 North Main.

"I wanted to open something the Claridge [next door] could be proud of," he says. "And I love coffee."

After a few unsuccessful attempts to bring a Starbucks to the former location of the Daily Grind, Othmani decided to open his own coffee shop there instead. He chose the name "qahwa" not only as an homage to his coffee-loving home in north Africa but also to catch the attention of passersby.

"I like when people say, 'What's that?'" he says. "Even if they can't remember it and just decide to call it 'the Q.'"

Qahwa serves coffee, smoothies, espresso drinks, and a smooth, not bitter, cold-brew iced coffee. But Othmani also has arrangements with a number of other local purveyors. Bluff City Coffee sells its pastries and sandwiches there. Skinny South Incredible Treats, a local healthy cookie brand, has a space in Qahwa's bakery case as well. A stack of T-shirts by the counter features both Qahwa T-shirts and a locally crafted line of "Memphis Is Me" T-shirts, created in the spirit of the "I Love NY" and "I AM Amsterdam" slogans.

The décor is elegant and chic but comfortable — the perfect place to sit and study or surf the web. An old vault safe, a relic from the former National Bank of Commerce, now serves as a meeting room. (The giant steel door has been welded open to keep anyone from being locked inside or, as the barista told us, to keep out "any funny business.") And Qahwa sits on the corner of Main and Adams, making it a prime location for watching people and trolleys go by.

Qahwa Coffee Bar, 109 N. Main (800-2227);

The Pink Palace will soon be home to a new coffee and sandwich bar, set to open sometime in the next week. You may recognize the name Bella Caffe from various festivals around town, where owner Mitch Bucker served coffee concessions from his mobile cart. Now Bella Caffe has found a more permanent home inside the Pink Palace, in the former Palace Café next to the gift shop.

Buckner will continue to operate the mobile cart, but by adding this brick-and-mortar location (which has been vacant since the Palace Café left a year ago), he will have the opportunity to expand his menu options. In addition to coffee drinks, Bella Caffe will cater box lunches for school visits to the museum and offer sandwiches, salads, soups, pizzas, and more for other museum goers. All food items will ring in under $10, and the café will be open during regular museum hours, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Bella Caffe, Pink Palace Museum 3050 Central (833-4276);

The Edge Coffeehouse, which closed its Overton Park Avenue location last September, has found a new home in its former location on Cooper. Most recently home to Harry's Detour, the location at 532 South Cooper still features the front patio and will have all the coffee and food offerings you remember from the former Edge Coffeehouse.

Owner Frank James also plans on extending the current hours (5 p.m. to 1 a.m.) to include breakfast and lunch as soon as possible. For now, the space will be host to live music, a songwriters night on Sundays, and "very high-speed, free wireless internet." James is also bringing back the drive-by coffee service, in which patrons can text in an order and have it ready to go and delivered to their car when they arrive.

In addition to their signature coffee drinks, the Edge will serve hoagie sandwiches, including the "Soul Sandwich": roast beef, soul sauce, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese on a hoagie roll. You can pick up a Soul Sandwich and chips for around $6.

The Edge Coffeehouse, 532 S. Cooper (216-4282);

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