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Beckner on Main serving coffee while keeping history alive in Johnson City

Madison Mathews • Jan 28, 2013 at 2:37 PM

The site of one of Johnson City’s oldest businesses is now the home of one of its newest.

The Beckner on Main, 232 E. Main St., has taken on the name of the jewelry store that was in business for nearly a century in the downtown area.

Inspired by Beckner’s Jewelers and its longevity in downtown Johnson City, business partners Vincent Massarelli and Duane Wardally have opened a coffee shop that will serve everything from lattes to nightly entertainment.

“After hearing from different people that there’s no breakfast, no coffee (downtown) ... we decided to keep the name of the original jewelry store and give it that kind of underground feel of Little Chicago from the Al Capone days,” Massarelli said.

Massarelli and Wardally, both of whom are from New York, visited Johnson City last April and thought there might be an opportunity for business.

After coming back during the Blue Plum Festival, the business partners were set on taking advantage of the budding growth happening in Johnson City, and in particular, the downtown area.

“Johnson City has a pretty interesting makeup all the way around that from the first couple of visits, and especially after Blue Plum, we felt that this is a unique part of the country and unique part of the state where opportunity abounds,” Wardally said.

The Becker on Main team, which is rounded out by Ryan Camargo and Dean Stewart, plans to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, in addition to offering beer and liquor when their license is obtained.

With downtown Johnson City taking strides in the last year toward major revitalization, setting up shop along Main Street wasn’t a difficult decision to make for the Beckner on Main team.

Wardally said their aim is to create a place that will help the downtown area as the major pieces of the revitalization puzzle come into play.

“Being a part of and plugged into a community is incredibly important, so bringing that together with breakfast ... you start to create a social pattern for people gathering in one place and you create a lifestyle. It’s not a place where you’re going through a drive-thru where you’re picking up what you want,” he said.

The new business owners are happy to see future downtown projects, such as Tupelo Honey Cafe and the 26-unit Paxton Place apartment complex, making progress, and they hope it will only create more traffic downtown.

Massarelli said he can see the potential in downtown, but there are three things that need to happen: continued work on flood alleviation, a greater focus on addressing the issue of the homeless population, and creating a greater college presence in the downtown area.

If those things are addressed, Massarelli said more people, particularly the younger crowd, will choose to spend their time and money in the downtown area. All that’s needed are more businesses to cater to those people.

“If we can bring in better businesses, these are young generations that can make Johnson City more than just a medical town,” he said.

For more information about Beckner on Main, visit www.  facebook.com/TheBeckner   or call 434-2325.

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