290 W. Main Street #12
Northboro, MA. 01532
My late high school math teacher gave me some advice as I packed my bags for college, “Always take one day a week for yourself.” For years, this was Saturday. And then kids shifted that for me…to Sunday. As a practical matter, I’m not great taking off a whole day for myself, and so reserve Sunday morning for a ritual.
For years I’ve headed over to Lala Java….first to their Shrewsbury “Shack” at Rt 9 and South (now a Price Chopper parking lot) and now to their Northborough location. I always go back roads to get there, with “Sunday Morning Jazz” (WMJX 106.7) quietly easing me into the day. Their Shrewsbury location let me take West Main out to Tufts (one of the prettiest vistas in town.) Now, I take West Main to Mill Road (always checking out Mill Pond) over to Fisher. Making a left on Fisher, I follow to Otis Street. Closing my eyes as I go past mega retailer Wal-Mart (they don’t remind me of a back road), I enjoy looking at Berberian’s fields. Following Otis, I make a left onto Davis, then a right onto the Southwest Cutoff.
Why am I sharing directional details? It’s part of my decompression routine. Looking at water, enjoying the seasons at Berberians…..a quiet time of reflection. It’s Sunday morning after all.
What Lala Java’s Northborough location lacks the character of the old Shack, is made up by the impression the minute you walk into the place. It’s not the sterile plastic of a Dunkin, or the pretentiousness of Fourbucks, or the weathered look of a classic coffee house….it’s like you wandered to a tropical beach. Suddenly, you’re on vacation. Tropical music plays everywhere you go.
Like any good coffee place, they have a zillion coffees and even more flavorings. Since I’m on vacation, I take a look at the menu, and then one of the smiling staff offers, “Good morning, Gary. Would you like the usual?”
Hold on. They don’t greet me by name at Dunkin; there I’m “Pal” or “Honey.” At Fourbucks I’m, “Iced Venti NoFat Mocha.” At Lala Java, the guy who comes in once in a while on a Sunday is greeted by name.
Sure, I’ll have the usual.
For my Sunday vacation, year round I have an Iced Mocha (Whipped cream? Sure, I’m on vacation) and a microwaved sausage egg and cheese on a plain bagel. The sandwich is just “OK,” although pretty good by the “sitting at the beach standard.” Pricing is steep for what it is….$10.08 before tip. Dunkin is around $5 for the same…but who vacations at Dunkin?
In the summers, I can sit outside either in front or on a (secret) side patio. Early in the morning, before the heat of the day, birds can be seen darting in and out of the adjacent woods.
As it gets colder, I get sit at one of the tall or short shipping crate tables. Like a beach store, Lala Java has a lot of t-shirts for sale, and the displays allow for more private tables in the place. While we like the privacy, sometimes we feel like they could remove a third of the merchandise to reduce clutter.
Lala Java charges for wireless. We don’t like that. Lala Java may not want to become remote offices for people, but it comes across as chintzy for a premium place to charge extra for wireless. Most places formerly charging for wireless have gotten away from charging…so should Lala Java.
After spending 45 minutes or so, reading the Westborough Patch on my BlackBerry, I am ready to head out for the day. Plenty of time to make it to church, do some yard work, or run to Home Depot.
“Good bye Gary. See you next Sunday,” offers a staff member. It’s not offered in the form of a question, it’s a statement. When you’re working at a vacation place, you know people will come back.
Lala Java gets a:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
About the RAG scale:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
Amber Light – Use caution
Red Light – Save your time and money