Field of beans for Maryland family

SerendipityLucky Jason. When he wanted his favorite frozen coffee drink, he chanced on it. Although the concoction wasn’t on the menu, the owner made it from his description.

“What do I ask for when I come back?” Jason asked.

“Well, what’s your name?”

Now you can’t get away from this famous Jason any more than you can get away from the horror movie murderer. There’s the original, the chilly, the cold, the brown, the royal, the nutty, the skinny and the lucky (see pun above).

“It’s our most popular drink,” said co-owner George Kanaras.

Kanaras and wife Kelly purchased Serendipity just six months ago from the previous owner. Jason came with the place and it’s been coffee kismet ever since.

“He still comes in. He still gets the Jason,” George said, of the guy he called a local legend.

Legend or not, his name is certainly on everyone’s lips at 3 p.m. every school day as students crowd in for their  afternoon caffeine fix and free wireless Internet access, forming study groups or giggling over games in the upstairs loft. The loft serves as a party pad, meeting room and ice cream oasis in the cutely designed coffee shop.

While mom and dad brew beans and char ciabatta bread, the Kanaras kids, just six and eight years old, learn to run
the register and make change. While most parents wheedle, cajole and threaten their children over chores, the Kanaras boys are hard at work.

George is from a family of entrepreneurs  in the restaurant business. His parents were Greek immigrants with their own enterprises. George partnered with his brothers and cousins in a pizza parlor in Maryland, where the family originated.
But dreams of warm Southern weather turned their heads toward Evans after they visited friends who reside there.

Kelly was a stay-at-home mom who home-schooled their children, and once the family saw that their standard of
living could improve, they made the move. George took a job with Sysco Corporation, capitalizing on his years of
food service experience. Still, George thought he could do better.

“I missed the food,” he said. “I missed the business.”

Taking a chance that he could make a successful Evans enterprise even greater, he and Kelly invested themselves in the store.

“It’s something we’re building together,” George said.

The Kanarases’ progress includes adding hot panini sandwiches, like the Cuban pork and the chicken cordon bleu, to the existing menu of cold deli lunches and wraps. They make their own chicken and tuna salads in the store, as well as waffle cones and bowls. Ice cream sundaes leave a deep footprint on the menu — especially the Muddy Sneakers, a diabetic’s nightmare of Snickers bars, ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream.

They’ll begin catering and lunch deliveries in August, when the boys go back to school. Already the Kanarases handle the café at the Columbia County Library, doing brisk coffee-and-dessert business during performances.

Eventually, the Kanarases hope to move into a bigger space and perhaps open a full-service restaurant. But they won’t undo the family ties that bind.

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