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-- The Owl and the Pussycat, by Edward Lear

The Town and Gown Bistro is too new to have a history

Here is the History of the Runcible Spoon...

The name, Runcible Spoon, comes from this children's story about love, adventure, nature, and whimsy. Elements from the story and the main characters, the owl and the pussycat, are evident throughout the restaurant's decor. Here is a little information on the history of the Spoon, from its beginnings in 1976, change in ownership, and the secret to that great coffee.
Early Spoon Sign

The Early Years

The first owner of the Runcible Spoon, Jeff Danielson, opened in 1976 at its present location as the only retail coffee roaster in the Midwest. At that time, the restaurant had a cafe (still roasting coffee), a dessert bakery, a sidewalk cafe designed by an expert in Japanese garden design, and added another floor to the house with a 300-gallon aquarium.

The Runcible Spoon relies on the quality of its product to create word of mouth business. Popularity begets attention, and the Spoon received it from crafty students in town. The first two signs hanging in front of the restaurant were stolen within the first two years of business! An early sign, displayed in 1982, is pictured to the right. Jeff and his staff wised up, and today a sturdy sign stands, in place for nearly twenty years.

Jeff and Matt

New Ownership

Matt O'Neill visited the Runcible Spoon regularly while Innkeeper at the Walden Inn, located an hour away in Greencastle. He always felt there was something special about the Spoon, and found inspiration for his cookbook, "Seasons at the Walden," while sipping on cups of coffee and soaking up the atmosphere.

After many years of visiting, and relocating to Bloomington in 2000, Chef O'Neill gave into temptation and purchased the restaurant he adored. Matt and Jeff pictured to left, still patroning each other's business. O'Neill's love for the establishment shows in the quality of the food.

Coffee purchase

Coffee Roaster

Coffee does not come from the tree brown. The green bean must be roasted to turn it brown and develop its flavor. Green coffee is very dense and stable. Roasted beans, however will deteriorate rapidly, becoming noticeably stale after two weeks, deteriorating steadily during that time. Once ground, of course, the coffee is stale in less than a day.

We were for many years the only gourmet roaster in the Midwest. Others have, meanwhile, come and gone, but we remain because we cater to a relatively small crowd of very particular people who prefer the world's finest coffees (roasted and cared for as they should be) to the passing fads of convenience or price.

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