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Art & Coffee Bar opens on Fifth Avenue East

The Coffee & Art Bar across from City Hall serves a full range of coffee products plus pastries.

The Art & Coffee Bar on Fifth Avenue East gets an early crowd from City Hall across the street, a 9 a.m. bump when shopkeepers open their doors and an afternoon rush for a caffeine pick-me-up and a pastry.

Owner Sondra Smith-Vaniz ran a restaurant in Jackson, Mississippi, for 13 years, then owned the Living Room coffeehouse in the 500 block of North Main Street until the recession hit.
A baker as well as a barista, Smith-Vaniz also serves a variety of pastries. One day last week she was featuring iced lemon loaf, cinnamon rolls with orange icing, raspberry pillow cookies, dark chocolate walnut and orange zest torte, kitchen sink cookies, cinnamon scones and whole grain croissants. The cozy and quiet setting makes for a pleasant workplace with wifi.
Merchants tend to come in around mid-morning. Sometimes there’s a lull after that.
“I would say my busiest time of day is the afternoon coffee,” she says. “Some people have looked on line. I’m the only one with five stars.”
While Black Bear Coffee Co. in the 300 block has been a stalwart on Main Street for 26 years, Smith-Vaniz notes that two other would-be competitors, Jongo Java on South Main and Sweet Gypsy on Church, have fallen away.
The Fifth Avenue coffeeshop, which opened in August, features another of Smith-Vaniz’s pursuits. She likes to collect art. Walls of the shop are filled with paintings, many of them for sale.
Coffee prices range from $2.25 for a regular coffee (three different beans) to $5 for a 12-ounce mocha breve. The menu includes lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, Americanos, expressos, chai lattes and matcha lattes and hot chocolate, as well as cold brew coffee and iced lattes.

The Art & Coffee Bar, at 118 Fifth Avenue East, is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. The phone number is 828-513-4008.