Town Square Renaissance

By Gus Bode

After years of falling into decay, the Carbondale Town Square area has experienced an impressive reformation.

A scarcely visited area of town just a few years ago, the north side of the Town Square now represents a thriving business community.

Businesses like the Newell House, Global Gourmet and the newly opened Town Square Market have been spearheading this change in the look and feel of the historic area.

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Elaine Ramseyer, owner of the Longbranch Coffee House, has owned the caf´┐Ż for 10 years and has seen the community grow to the hot spot it is today.

Ramseyer said she has made a multitude of improvements to the 18-year-old establishment since she acquired it including a juice bar, patio seating and hiring a professional chef for her vegetarian kitchen.

“In the 10 years we’ve had it, it’s been on an eternal growth spurt,” Ramseyer said. “Our business has done nothing but grow.”

The Town Square Market, which opened less than a year ago, has filled the void left by the Neighborhood Co-op, which moved out to the Murdale Shopping Center.

The Town Square Market started where the Co-op left off by providing fresh meat and produce for the health-conscious consumers in Carbondale. The store also supplies a bulk of the food cooked at Longbranch and Global Gourmet.

Rene Cook, the owner of the Town Square Market and former employee of the Neighborhood Co-op, has been in business in the Town Square for the good part of a quarter-decade.

A Town Square resident and employee for more than 35 years, Cook said she feels a strong bond to the ever-growing area.

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“This is my hood,” Cook said with a laugh.

In addition to the establishments surrounding the Square, the Carbondale Farmer’s Market has also been meeting in the Square every Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will continue to do so through September.

Cook and Ramseyer are also part of the Historic Town Square Business Coalition, which brings together the Town Square businesses and works together with the city to improve the up and coming area.

City Manager Jeff Doherty works with the coalition to beautify the Square and make it more accessible and comfortable for residents.

Doherty has overseen the installation of two new park benches around the Town Square fountain and additional parking between Jackson Street and Oak Street.

A series of banners depicting an official logo for the Town Square is also in the works. Provided that the businesses can raise the money to produce the banners, the city would provide for the installation.

“The city is very invested in the Town Square,” said Doherty.

Daily Egyptian writer David Lopez can be reached at 618-536-3311 ext. 274 or by email at [email protected]

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