Today was my third visit to Quills in the past week. In a moment of weird concordance, I spent 18 minutes listening to Bryant Simon's excellent lecture on Starbucks and its popularity from this year's TASTE 3 convention. And while I dug the lecture and totally buy into his observations about the safely hip and artistic "brand" that Starbucks has forged, it begs the question: hasn't that brand been seized upon by just about every coffeeshop-- corporate or mom 'n pop-- that's opened in the past decade?
- Safely hip-- not hip enough to be alienating. Quills? Check. Great graphics on the logo and frequent-buyer cards. Bulletin board full of alt-culture happenings.
- Artsy so you don't have to be. Quills? Check. Fanciful bird and feather related art on the walls. A gorgeous photo series in the women's rest room. Fantastic alternative music on the sound system.
- Archictureally eccentric. Quills? Check. Industrial pipe-and-duct-baring ceilings. Dark walls. Mansion library style built-in bookshelves with intricate moldings. Window-seat-ish nook for reading.
- Fosters intellectual atmosphere. Quills? Check. Issues of the Economist and Paste readily available. Stock of books definitely on the literary end of the pop-lit spectrum.
No slight against Quills intended. In the end the Starbucks-Quills-Highland-Heinie Bros. question remains one of which of these attempts at artsy-feelgood-eccentric-intellectual-hip coffee-serving establishments best meshes with your own balance of the aforementioned attributes. Quills just happens to mesh best with mine.
In my experience:
- Highland is more hip-alt.
- Heinie Bros is more hippie-feelgood.
- Days is more mature.
- Starbucks is more boho-bobo-yup.
And Quills, for me, is just right. Beautiful to look at. Quiet. Good tunes. Free WiFi (enjoyed by all aforementioned establishments except Starbucks). Good coffee. Roommate says good food. A bit off the beaten path. A bit more expensive than Highland, which has been my coffeeshop of choice for the past year. But worth it to avoid the sometimes-less-than-desireable crowd that tends to congregate at Highland, particularly in nice weather.
Note: they've been having AC issues there, and at times the place is quite hot. Quills would benefit from installing outside plugs for computer users.