MILLEDGEVILLE — Milledgeville sits a long way from Erik Allbrook's Newark, N.J. birthplace.
He first saw the town in 2006 after visiting his wife's parents.
“We came down three months ago and had nothing to do. We were actually thinking about starting a business at the same time. I asked my wife what about a coffee shop?” Allbrook said.
That idea morphed into an Internet, coffee and wine spot named My Nook iCafe & Lounge that opened two weeks ago at 921 N. Columbia St. across from the Goodie Gallery.
The business world isn't fresh ground for Allbrook, who started Stunt'N Motorcycles Magazine and F-Inc. Designs and Concepts out of Atlanta.
My Nook stands apart from those endeavors.
“This is my own little personal project especially coming to the town so much,” Allbrook said. “I built this place by hand. Everything you see in here is all me.”
My Nook sits between downtown and the northside just far enough from the bigger coffee chains.
Allbrook said the spot caught a few college students early on, but the larger crowds come at nighttime during wine serving hours. Happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. daily.
'Wine Down Wednesday' offers a customer half off wine glasses and cheesecake. Everyone gets free cheese and cracker platters.
Jazz instrumentals of hip-hop/R&B beats compliment the experience.
Allbrook likes what Milledgeville offers with close-knit community. Running a business in Atlanta is more than a bit different.
“You can feel the love and support differently because I know most of my customers now by first name. The small town southern comfort has definitely overwhelmed me here,” the My Nook owner said.
My Nook sells bagels, croissants and donuts. Coffee comes via Kuerig K-Cups or standard decaffeinated and regular brewed pitchers.
People pick out the coffee they want as opposed to perusing a menu board.
All the cups cost the same between $1.50 to no more than $3 for an iced coffee drink.
“The experience I'm selling them is coming to My Nook as opposed to going to another location,” Allbrook said.
The spot's name was inspired by a Minneapolis, Minn. coffee shop called The Nook.
“It looked like a mini-lounge library, which I thought was so clever. I remember the first time I heard the word nook and after that I began to see it so much. That little name stuck,” he said.
Customers receive free Wi-Fi as well.
Allbrook and his wife run the lounge together.
A smaller, mom-and-pop operation has to work hard competing with an array of new and established businesses on North Columbia.
“In the south, folks get comfortable in their routine, so I think one of my new challenges is getting a genre of folks to think of me as their new favorite spot,” the My Nook owner said. “The other coffee shops have their regulars. My challenge is acquiring that over time, which I'm sure will come.”
Look for 'Finally Fridays' with live jazz from 6 to 9 p.m. coming soon to the café.
Check out My Nook iCafe & Lounge on Facebook or call 478-295-3301.
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