There's nothing like a hot cup of coffee or espresso and a homemade treat to bring a little comfort to daily living. These simple pleasures have made Central Perk and Dessert a prime downtown destination for people of all ages.
"We cater to anyone who loves coffee and comfortable surroundings," said Darcy Lee, who opened the business at 14 South 14th Street in April of 2010.
Central Perk roasts all of its own single-origin, coffee beans, which are not blends but come from various countries, including Papua New Guinea, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Sumatra and Costa Rica. "This also means that every cup of coffee you get from us is as fresh as it can be," Lee said.
Kaleb Ferry prepares an espresso at Central Perk.
As a full-service coffee and bake shop, Central Perk's espresso, drip coffee, lattes, americanos and macchiatos are perennially popular, along with the shop's Raspberry White Chocolate Scones. The orders start coming in early each morning, when customers stop by Central Perk's drive-through window. The shop is also busy between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. when people drop by to order the quiche of the day, Central Perk's famous Cubana Grilled Sandwich, homemade soup or other menu items.
With its free wi-fi Internet service and array of tables, chairs and couches, Central Perk is a favorite hang-out for college students who stop by in the afternoon to study. The shop also provides a gathering place for ladies who stop twice a month to enjoy lunch and play bridge.
Homemade caramels prove popular
Whether they stop to study, socialize or enjoy homemade Belgian waffles on Saturday morning, many customers also pick up some of Central Perk's homemade caramels, which are supplied by Lee's father, Gene Meisch. Now 86, Meisch has been making caramels for more than 25 years. He creates 14 varieties of caramels for Central Perk, including sea salt, pecan, almond, cashew, spiced rum, whiskey, espresso and more. "We're always on the lookout for new, interesting combinations," said Lee, who includes the caramels with coffee in the customized gift baskets available from Central Perk.
Lee is also on the lookout for artwork from local artists that she can display at Central Perk. "Because we're a local business, we like to support local artists. We also host acoustic nights once a month and encourage local musicians to come check us out and maybe play."
Connecting with community is important to Lee, who adds that Central Perk is available for private events. She appreciates the opportunity to be part of the downtown business community. "Our downtown location is easily accessible, since we're right next to the movie theater the Fort Dodge Community Recreation Center (REC). We're glad to be here and look forward to serving even more customers."