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Business to perk up for Romeo in Carnegie

| Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.
Greg Romeo, left, owner of the Medicine Shoppe, and Matt Harkness stand in front of a Carnegie Coffee House kiosk at Off the Wall Gallery in Carnegie. A full-scale coffee house is being constructed in Carnegie's former U.S. Post Office building. Randy Jarosz | For The Signal Item

Greg Romeo thought about bringing a coffee house to Carnegie for years.

His wait is down to a few months.

Carnegie Borough Council this month approved the site plan for bringing The Medicine Shoppe, Romeo's nearly 16-year-old pharmacy, and a new coffee shop to the former U.S. Post Office location at 132 E. Main St.

“I always wanted to wait for the right opportunity, and the right location,” said Romeo, owner of both businesses. “I always wanted to put them together so that the two businesses kind of fed off each other. I think anytime you start a business, to have a built-in clientele already coming in the door (helps it succeed).”

Developer Craig Cozza, who owns the post office building, said construction should begin within the next 30 days. He anticipates construction taking two or three months, with the businesses ready to operate by April or May.

Romeo said the process of bringing The Medicine Shoppe and the new business, which will be called Carnegie Coffee Co., to the old post office location began in December 2011.

He said he was looking for a development opportunity and was introduced to Cozza. The two viewed the building, and Romeo said he “immediately fell in love” with it.

What followed was more than a year of preparation. Cozza said it some time to get the building up to code, with “a lot of little things” adding up to a major undertaking.

But just talk of the project drew interest in the borough.

“That being right in the heart of our business district, I think is absolutely fantastic,” Councilman Mike Sarsfield said at the Jan. 14 meeting.

The Medicine Shoppe and Carnegie Coffee Co. will split room inside the old post office building, and Romeo plans to add a gift shop to the pharmacy.

The coffee shop will sandwiches and other food along with coffee.

Romeo envisions a communal atmosphere at the coffee shop, with comfortable seating where people can gather to listen to live music or use free wiFi.

“A town without a coffee house — imagine,” Romeo said of the current state in Carnegie. “Every town needs that community meeting place that's not a bar. You can go with friends (and) hang out.”

The community idea even inspired the name — “It's Carnegie's coffee shop,” Romeo said.

Cozza, who bought the post office building three to four years ago, said he wanted to wait until he heard the right idea before agreeing to develop it. He believes that's the case with Romeo's plans.

“This will be a really cool, neat place with people coming from all over to enjoy,” Cozza said. “It's going to be a nice regional draw.”

Doug Gulasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-8527 or dgulasy@tribweb.com.

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