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Local java stand, thrift store spices up Five Points

Penicillin, ice cream cones and (most importantly) potato chips — all fantastic products that came into being by accident. Although the fruition of Five Points Coffee and Spice and the adjoining Uncommon Thrift Gallery wasn’t exactly accidental, it certainly wasn’t planned.

“Stuff happens,” Alva Richcreek, Coffee and Spice’s owner, said regarding his kismet acquisition.

After Heartworks Bakery closed a few years back, Scribes Café ran the space for about a year before selling it to Richcreek, an act he had never really much considered before. However, he had always wanted to run a ‘little counter sandwich shop,’ and the location of this place didn’t suck — lying unassumingly just outside the sometime-raucous confines of the Riverside sub-neighborhood — and he was certainly armed with experience.

“I’ve been in and out of kitchens around the state since 1984,” Richcreek said.

Despite Richcreek’s initially intimidating tower-stance and burly build, it becomes quickly apparent that the guy has got unarguable heart and dedication to the neighborhood’s well-being. Plus, he digs people. Even though Coffee and Spice, which opened April this year, has a full, professional kitchen quietly tucked away behind the bustle of the front, Richcreek instead opts for maximum customer interaction by plopping down an open kitchen behind a bar he built with his friend, fellow employee and the in-house DJ, Brandon M., right by the glass window wall.

“Alva has really built this place on favors and not even $1,000,” Mandie Garrett, Richcreek’s girlfriend and fellow employee said.

She explained that the do it yourself aspect of the brick-walled café is exemplary of the feelings the shop aims to emit. On the bonus side, Richcreek seems rather capable of getting the job done.

“He’s a MacGyver,” Garrett said.

During the shop’s transformation under the Five Points Coffee and Spice moniker, only minimal renovations were needed including the installation of a new refrigerator and some rewiring — most of which Richcreek did himself.

Additionally, the independent coffee shop serves up not just any coffee — but Richcreek’s exclusive, organic ‘Alva’s Five Points Blend’ brew of Joe roasted locally by Bold Bean Coffee Roasters. Garrett’s mom, Christi, handles the baking of homemade pastries for sale, including an elusively delicious secret family recipe edition of carrot cake.

“Most restaurants’ carrot cakes are like spice cake with carrot in it,” Mandie said. “Ours is like carrot cake with spice in it.”

Although Mandie has serious pride for her family’s prized recipe, she leaves the ‘domestic’ cooking duties to her culinarily inclined beau.

Every night, Richcreek whips up an $8-a-plate dinner special. The menu is whatever he’s feeling: varying from meatloaf, garlic mashed potatoes and green beans to jerk chicken over ginger rice with field peas.

“You will not walk out hungry,” Richcreek said.

Agreeing wholeheartedly with the above statement and tucked quietly behind the coffee shop by that hidden commercial kitchen is Diane Whitten and her shop, Uncommon Thrift Gallery.

Whitten, who ran Uncommon Grounds Coffee Co. from Jan. 2005 through Dec. 2008 in San Marco, opened her shop within a shop about six weeks ago.

Like Richcreek, Whitten hadn’t planned on her launch of her store that is a hybrid between a thrift store compiled of things she’s gathered over the years from her daughter, from friends and original art (including jewelry, mosaic tables, homemade shampoos and hand knit items). Whitten had wandered into the backroom randomly one day and was taken aback by the space.

“It was kind of magical in some way,” Whitten said dreamily stretched out on a couch in her store.

She asked Richcreek if she could rent it out, to which he obliged. The combination of the two joints has been a cohesive one thus far, something Whitten described as ‘completely separate and complimentary.’

“I think I’m good for him,” Whitten said. Whitten loves the vibe Coffee and Spice has been sailing, especially with their late-night food offerings (hey, they serve nosh ‘til 3 a.m.) and keeps her shop open until midnight for the more nocturnal java-heads.

Besides covering all the caffeine, munchies, sweet duds and unique art bases, Coffee and Spice joined with The Gallery to kick-start live musical performances. The store intends on having acoustic nights every Thursday for local artists to perform to a coffee-loving audience.

“It’s a good community building,” Whitten said.

A fully unpretentious establishment indeed, Garrett said Coffee and Spice is a melting pot of different cultures and a safe place.

So safe, there has even been talk of Five Points Coffee and Spice and The Uncommon Thrift Gallery being a go-to destination should an emergency break out.

“If zombies ever attack, this is where we’re coming,” Garrett said. Check out Five Points Coffee and Spice online at fivepointscoffeeandspice.com and The Uncommon Thrift Gallery on Facebook.

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