Coffee

A barista pours steamed milk in a coffee.

Rather than replace Larry Suggs Java Juice Extreme with another contracted coffee shop, Veterans Canteen Service will now offer “We Proudly Serve Starbucks” products, served by canteen service staff members.

That’s the latest word from the canteen service’s headquarters in St. Louis, which said when the coffee counter was disassembled in November during a floor remodel several environmental and infrastructure issues were discovered. It did not specify what those issues were; however, Suggs said the problem he was told about was mildew.

The cancellation of Suggs’ contract in December drew the ire of some of his veteran customers, who said his coffee shop provided an atmosphere that many veterans struggling with mental illness found therapeutic. Some signed a petition and staged a small demonstration outside the VA Thursday in hopes of persuading the canteen service to re-up the contract.

Spokeswoman Chelsea Anderson-McCadney said in an email Friday that won’t happen.

She said once the coffee shop was disassembled, the canteen service decided it was not safe to continue the operation. It also would have been expensive to rebuild a new coffee shop to meet code requirements, she said.

“VCS does value the feelings and feedback from our Veterans. VCS recognizes the important relationships and excellent customer environment built by Mr. Suggs. The issue here is operational safety as we render services to our Veterans,” she said.

While the canteen service will be offering Starbucks coffee, it’s not a Starbucks franchise and other coffee, drinks and foods will be available. Revenue generated through canteen service sales supports other veteran programs. There is ample seating at the Veterans Canteen Service Cafe, Anderson-McCadney said.

She said the decision doesn’t represent a negative reflection on the quality of Suggs’ product or service. She said Suggs was offered the opportunity to bid on a contract for a larger, newer coffee shop in Eugene but declined.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(2) comments

jo1986

you were there for the vets, I won't be drinking any other coffee at VA! thanks for all the talks, I lost my James a year ago, so now its just me, sure miss seeing and talking to you, let us know where your going to be!

chicagomike

Thanks Larry. I do want to share one story about Larry from 2014 when I was sent to the Roseburg ER. According to ER staff at the time, the ER was being deliberately short staffed ER docs by then Roseburg Director Bogedain. I waited over 5 hours in the waiting room and when called, gave up my turn to a more deserving Veteran as the triage system had failed at that point. The number of waiting Veterans went from 3 at 11:30 a.m. to standing room only at 5:00 p.m. Larry was leaving for the day and when he saw all of the Veterans in the ER waiting room which had overflowed into the hallway, he went back to his coffee shop and came back with thermos's of fresh coffee and cups for those waiting.

I've had numerous conversations with Larry over the years.

You are and will be missed Larry. Thank You.

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