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A&P espresso owner committed to location

Plans to remain regardless of which group operates grocery

Posted: August 23, 2012 - 12:09am
Simone Vetrano, manager of the A&P's coffee stand, hands over a drink at the store on Wednesday. Vetrano is looking forward to the store continuing on in some form after A&P's September 8 closure.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Simone Vetrano, manager of the A&P's coffee stand, hands over a drink at the store on Wednesday. Vetrano is looking forward to the store continuing on in some form after A&P's September 8 closure.

If current negotiations between owners of the Foodland Center and Seattle-based Myers Group are successful, the Alaskan and Proud coffee shop could settle back into its local morning ritual of serving coffee to its many loyal customers.

With Sept. 8 looming and marking the planned closing of the Juneau grocer, Tyler Myers, Myers Group president and owner visited the employees of Alaskan and Proud on Tuesday. It is not known whether there were new revelations from the meeting; he has however, in earlier statements, expressed a desire to retain as many A&P employees as possible to ensure a smooth potential transition.

Alaskan and Proud’s espresso shop manager, Simone Vetrano said she believed that if Myers Group took over the Alaskan and Proud grocery space in the West Willoughby Avenue Foodland Center, she and her espresso counter would remain.

“We are totally on board,” Vetrano said.

The Alaskan and Proud coffee shop opened originally 18 years ago as part of a coffee and sandwich shop. This was back before many locals even thought about delis, Alaskan and Proud’s Suzanne Williams said.

“Deli wasn’t even a word unless you lived in New York,” Williams said.

The deli evolved over time into separate espresso counter, a cold sandwiches and salads cooler, donuts and tabled seating in the Alaskan and Proud atrium.

Vetrano came in fairly early in the life of the espresso stand. She said she has enjoyed working for Alaskan and Proud — the espresso counter is owned by the grocer.

“As sad as I am to not be working with them in the future I know that if the Myers corporation comes in that we are going to be very happy and they are going to be wonderful for the community,” said Vetrano.

Vetrano said she was told Myers wanted to keep employees in place.

“So I’ll be working with all the same people I’ve had for the last twelve years,” Simone said. Vetrano said she has worked the coffee counter off and on over that time.

Vetrano said she doesn’t expect much to change as far as the product she sells is concerned. She said Myers assured that department managers, with their historic knowledge of their customers, will have a say in how to keep their customers happy.

As far as I know everybody has been happy so far,” Vetrano said of her coffee and service.

Vetrano said she was working behind the bar at the Triangle when she was approached by the then manager of the coffee counter.

“That was 13 years ago now,” Vetrano said. “And I fell in love with it.”

Vetrano said her customers are the reason she stays with the coffee counter.

When it was announced Alaskan and Proud was closing, Vetrano considered opening her own coffee stand.

“I didn’t want to lose my customers and I didn’t, you know, want our customers to lose us,” Vetrano said.

This coffee stand here is an important part of everybody’s morning. It is a great way to start their day,” Vetrano said. “And ours as well.”

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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