"Central Perk" to offer coffee, wine, food in downtown St. Cloud

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Aug 8, 2013 at 8:53 am

ST. CLOUD (KNSI) - Randi Tapio has long been a fan of the hit 1990s / 2000s television show "Friends," and now, she's channeling that fandom into a new downtown St. Cloud restaurant, coffee house and wine bar.

"Central Perk" is taking shape within the Regency Building at 912 West St. Germain. 

Tapio says the idea came about last September when she and her husband, Nick, along with their business partners, Alan and Odessa Scherr, decided to look into opening a coffee shop/wine bar in Sauk Rapids. 

However, when the Regency building location turned up during a Craigslist search for used coffee shop and restaurant equipment in February, the four made arrangements to lease that spot instead.

Tapio says she was surprised to learn only three coffee shops in the United States bear the famous moniker, and there were no intellectual property issues to tackle in order to brand as "Central Perk." 

As far as fare, Tapio says they'll be offering a range of sandwiches, wraps, paninis, soups and salads for the lunch hour, dine-in or take-out, and a rotating list of appetizers during evening hours.

One of the draws, Tapio says, will be a 'pairing menu' during the evening; the cafe has a selection of between 55 and 60 wines, many locally made, that they'll suggest to customers depending on food choice. 

They also have plans to add a Minnesota brewery-heavy craft beer list in the near future. 

"Central Perk" will seat 28 people, with plans to offer outdoor seating. A staff of 12 employees has already been added. 

Hours are set to be 7 am - 6 pm, Monday through Wednesday, but Tapio says they're planning to remain open as a wine bar until midnight, Thursday through Saturday. They'll also shift to the same later hours during any show nights at the Paramount Theatre. 

Tapio says, beyond offering coffee, wine and food, they're hoping to bolster the downtown arts community by offering the space up for local theatre meet-and-greets, art crawls and other events. 

"One of our taglines, originally, was 'Friends, Family and Community," Tapio says. "If you visit our website, you'll see part of our mission is to be involved with, and give back to, the community."

"Central Perk" is in the final phases of development before opening next Monday, August 12. 

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