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Wake up and smell the coffee!

Famous for its homemade goodies, Stork's coffeehouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is also becoming known lot something equally mouth-watering. Locals are increasingly using the outdoor cafe to meet out of-town vacationers they wooed online, Rather than set up that first connection late at night in a deafening, smoke-filled bar, many gay men are turning to the more relaxed, more personal atmosphere of the coffeehouse.

Coffee establishments have indeed become an integral part of many gay neighborhoods all over the country in warm weather gay men crowd the street in front of the Big Cup in New York City's Chelsea, and in any season you'll find patrons propped on stools at the Factory Cafe in the West Village--cruising passersby on Christopher Street through the big plate-glass window.

Cooper Smith, a 29-year-old public relations specialist in Dallas, says that when he travels he pops into a gay coffeehouse "because it's the quickest, most reliable way to find out what the cool stuff is going on in town." Guidebooks, he says, are usually already outdated by the time they hit the shelves. "I like to experience a city the way residents do, and visiting a gay coffee shop lots me get a real snapshot of the place."

The phenomenon is not limited to gay men. Walk along Seventh Avenue in Brooklyn's Park Slope, and you'll see lesbians filtering into many of the cozy coffeehouses there. Mama Bears, on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, Cad, has been a mainstay lesbian coffeehouse for decades.

"We're ground zero of the 'gayborhood,'" says Dave Rumsey, 44, one of the owners of Millennium Coffee in the Center City district of Philadelphia right in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love's gay ghetto. "People come here first to have a cup of coffee and figure out what to do and where to go," he says.
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Title Annotation:Orientation: dispatches from the editors; Stork's coffeehouse
Author:Dahir, Mubarak
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Feb 3, 2004
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