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Entrepreneurs offer teens meeting place, sweets

Teenagers need time to do practically nothing but chat with people navigating similar adolescent paths.

Of course, the timeless complaint of teenagers is that there is nothing to do. But having nothing to do can be fun in the appropriate setting such as sitting with friends, savoring sweet Italian soda or rich coffee and creamy desserts.

Entrepreneurs Michael Carrigan and Sean Navin are banking on teenagers delighting in sipping and socializing. They are opening a coffee, tea, soda and Italian dessert cafe at 1204 Main St. in Holden, less than a mile from Wachusett Regional High School.

The shop, called Sweets & Java Inc., will take the place of Lilly's Bakery, which moved to larger quarters in Westminster and will be among suppliers for Sweets & Java, as it is for the evening dessert cafe, Cafe Dolce of Shrewsbury Street, Worcester. Modern Pastry in Boston's North End, where rich dolce is legend, will also be among suppliers, according to Mr. Carrigan.

He said he and Mr. Navin, who got their dessert cafe experience at Cafe Dolce on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, have been dealing with the cream of the crop dessert suppliers since 1993.

"What we decided to do is open a daytime cafe," Mr. Carrigan told Holden selectmen Tuesday night as they approved a common victualer's license allowing the business to serve food. Mr. Carrigan said he and his business partner plan to offer teenagers a place to hang out after school.

"It sounds like something we need," David J. White, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said enthusiastically. "It sounds like you have a very interesting concept."

Encouraged by Selectman Joseph G. Sullivan to tell the audience about their offerings, Mr. Carrigan said they would be serving cappuccino, espresso, American coffee and Italian desserts, and coffee- and tea-related items.

"You see the wisdom of the wonderful Main Street in Holden and want to be one of the anchor stores in the west end," Mr. Sullivan told Mr. Carrigan and Mr. Navin, apparently referring to buildings for rent in the same block as the cafe.

The dessert cafe would complement the "Holden Spa" eatery, nearly next door, which serves hearty breakfasts and tasty lunches in a warm, comfortable atmosphere.

Anyone who has been inside Lilly's Bakery may wonder how much seating could possibly fit in there. The answer is enough for a few small groups at a time, according to Mr. Navin. He said he and Mr. Carrigan are remodeling the space, pushing back the kitchen cooking area to make room for tables and chairs.

Since the pastries will be purchased elsewhere, there is no need for cooking equipment, Mr. Carrigan said.

He got his start in the cafe business by following his sister's lead and getting a job at Cafe Dolce more than a decade ago. "I started as a dishwasher and worked my way up," Mr. Carrigan said recently, adding: "Actually I do more dishes now than ever."

Java & Sweets is set to open its doors Feb. 5. Hours will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday though Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays for eat-in and take out orders.

Source: Worcester Telegram

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