Setting the Table
When Canadian Dion Dobranski decided to uproot his young family, leaving Regina, the capitol of Saskatchewan, situated well north of North Dakota, he could have chosen anywhere to put down roots, raise children and open a second location for the family business. The Dobranskis are franchisees in an international chain of coffee lounges called Second Cup. After visiting the area, he and his family decided Myrtle Beach was best, and so less than a year ago the work of moving and investing began. The family moved to Myrtle Beach in April, and Second Cup opened recenty at the Northwood Plaza on the north end of Myrtle Beach proper.
While there are some 400 Second Cup locations in Canada, Dobranski’s new Myrtle Beach operation is just the fourth in the entire U.S. Different in many ways from Starbucks, the largest international (and local, for that matter) competitor, the first thing you’ll notice upon entering is its size. The coffee shop is huge, easily seating 50 patrons with room for a dozen more. Open and airy, most of the two outside walls are large glass windows providing landscaped urban views and lots of light, though there are nooks to disappear into, for privacy. Several flat panel TVs high on the wall offer the distraction for those who want the headlines or, presumably, some important sporting event.
Patrons set up laptop computers and work, while looking relaxed in overstuffed chairs. Second Cup calls its restaurants “Coffee Lounges.” For those rare perfect days, not too hot, cold, windy or humid, Second Cup offers outdoor café seating as well.
Display coolers and a large counter, from which the baristas create and serve coffee drinks and food, sit along the back wall in front of the hidden kitchen. Plenty of booths, two-top and four-top tables, a bar, and an upper level with more tables and couches, provide the bulk of the seating.
Down the Hatch
Most of the menu is on the wall touting the small ($1.75), medium ($2) and large ($2.30) cups of coffee purported to be “freshly ground, brewed, one cup at a time,” along with typical hot and cold coffee-based drinks. Most of the specialty drinks range from $2.80 - $4.50. The chain’s signature drink is “Frozen Hot Chocolate” ($3.10 - $4.80). Rainforest Alliance-approved beans imply that Second Cup franchises are good world citizens concerned with sustainability and fairness to the third world farmers who grow most of the world’s coffee.
I drink coffee black, and the medium roast I tried was smooth, flavorful, without a hint of bitterness. Without naming names the barista boasted that unlike other large coffee chains, “we don’t over-roast our beans.”
A few breakfast items include the Breakfast Wrap ($4.95), bakery items (biscotti, cookies, bear claws, cinnamon rolls, scones ($2 - $2.75), a Canadian coconut custard-based sweet called the “Nanaimo Bar” ($2.50), and a Fruit Tart ($4.95). I opted for the Fruit Tart and the Breakfast Wrap. The wrap is a grilled soft tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, and a bit of bell pepper. Pulled from the cooler, the wrap was grilled on a Panini press until hot and steaming in about two to three minutes. The Fruit Tart had a flakey crust, fresh strawberries and blueberries, and enough whipped cream to help you forget you were eating something relatively healthy. All delicious.
A Chicken Salad croissant ($5.95), and an Italian Pesto Sandwich ($5.95) round out the food offerings, which may be expanded later, according to Dobranski.
Affordable for lunch or snack time, my food and small coffee totaled $11.65 (plus tax) and the amount of food in the wrap and tart was easily enough to share. The Wi-Fi and the friendly service, free.