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The News-Journal

New take on the old break room

Lis Valencia

Lis Valencia

Lis Valencia

Lis Valencia, Staff Writer

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In the heart of downtwon Athens there is a self-servicing café  where there are no waiters, no menus are handed out, and customers can choose where they want to sit: either in a seat or lounge chair, while enjoying a good meal for less than five dollars.

The Break Room, located at 100 E. Corsicana Suite 101, is a vending café  that differs from the usual sit-down café. But this new fad of vending cafes isn’t new. In fact, vending cafes have been around for quite a while.

The Break Room owner, Stephen Hurt, remembers how he got the idea to open a vending café in Athens.

“Well it all started about 30 years ago when I was working in downtown Houston,” Hurt said. “Many of the buildings in downtown Houston are connected by a tunnel system, and some of the tunnels have shops and something like [vending cafés] within the tunnels.”

Hurt didn’t decide on acting on the idea of opening this small café until he was picked for jury duty at the Henderson County Court house.

“There was nothing close by,” he said. “During the ten minute break, you run and get some crackers. They only had a drink machine up there but that was about it. So when I saw this space for rent, I just decided to do it.”

Break Room has been open since Feb. 6. The rest area is a convenient place for someone to sit and relax. And if you have a case of the munchies, you can also grab a snack that is conveniently next to you.

With chairs and tables in one area and lounge chairs on the other side of the cafe, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a coffee shop we all know and love.

Not only can patrons go just to eat, but also the café offers free Wi-Fi and has a television for customers to watch.

In the vending machines, you can find just about anything the heart desires.

“I have a wide variety of everything from ‘sinful’ to healthy things,” Hurt said. “And plus, a quiet place where they can sit, eat and work.”

Apart from the warm atmosphere where people can indulge in the moment, Hurt also has something other than his convenient food source: He proudly displays his letter collection on the Break Room walls.

Over the past ten years, Hurt has collected different letters from celebrities and important figures in history.

“I have two hundred years of history on the wall, but a lot [of people] don’t stop and look at that,” he said. “There are some, well know names hanging on the wall. They’re not letters to me; its just a collection I have gotten from [people’s] family collections.”

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, Hurt doesn’t post just any signatures on the wall. He does extensive research and has the signature authenticated before they go on the wall, with figures such as Roger Sherman, Gerald Ford and James Earl Jones are just a few signature that grace the space.

Hurt has each signature and letter checked, sending them to a man in New York who he trust and does everything in his power to insure that it’s a 100 percent real.

On one side of the café, Hurt rents out a conference room for those who seek to use the room for business meetings. The room also can also be used, without charge, by those who need to meet for a book club or a church meeting.

So when you need a quiet place to sit and relax, a place to hold a group meeting, or if you’re just hoping to get a snack during jury duty, The Break Room is definitely a great place to go.

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The news site of Trinity Valley Community College.
New take on the old break room