Middle Country Public Library, Centereach unveiled its new café Friday, Sept. 8, continuing an ongoing campaign expanding arts, education and cultural opportunities throughout the greater Middle Country area.
The new café offers freshly brewed coffee and craft espresso drinks from TEND Coffee and baked goods from JeJoJo Bagels of Centereach. It is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Library staff hosted community members and public officials for the grand opening ceremony. Library director Sophia Serlis-McPhillips cut the ribbon to the cheers and adulation of the crowd.
“This café is part of a renovation we did for the entire library, which started in 2018,” she said. “We had a soft opening over the summer, but today was the official.”
Serlis-McPhillips highlighted the considerable public demand for a café space through the years, suggesting that the recent library renovations offer a suitable opportunity to embark upon the undertaking.
“We wanted to do that because it seemed like what the patrons and the community wanted,” the MCPL director said. “It is nice for people just to sit down and relax.”
She continued, “Unlike some other places, we are manning the staff. So we hire the staff and train them,” adding that the partnership with JeJoJo’s represents an ongoing effort by the library “to keep everything local.”
Along with the new café, MCPL offers a new maker space and a recording studio. Serlis-McPhillips noted how these innovations have “become part of our everyday operation.”
Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden), the majority leader of the county Legislature whose 4th District includes Centereach, congratulated library staff and patrons alike.
“This is just an exciting day for the residents of Middle County to have a facility like this,” he said. “We’ve always had beautiful libraries, but this just takes it up a notch.”
The majority leader highlighted how the new café plays into ongoing community revitalization efforts, with proposals for greater public investments and sewers. He maintained arts and cultural institutions such as MCPL as “vital” to the health and future prosperity of the community.
“We should never overlook arts — whether they be from paintings to theatrics to … 3D printing,” he added. “The capabilities are unlimited for what we can do, and we have to keep that alive and well in our community.”
Town of Brookhaven Councilman Neil Manzella (R-Selden), who represents Centereach on the Town Board, was once a part-time employee at MCPL. He underscored the several transformations the facility has undergone since his departure.
“It’s just so heartwarming to see how much it’s growing and adapting to the times,” he said. “To see how much it’s growing and everything they do, it’s just amazing.”
Manzella expressed enthusiasm for the opportunities of sewers and for further community revitalization and commercial redevelopment. But as local government works toward those objectives, he said institutions like MCPL remain a “cornerstone” for residents.
“Anything that helps provide the arts, that helps provide outlets for any kind of entertainment or fun, the library is something that provides that,” the councilman said.
Adding to these sentiments, Serlis-McPhillips regarded the library as “central.”
“I definitely feel that we are in the heart of the community,” she said. “Our community supports the library a lot,” adding, “When we work together collectively, I think that makes a difference.”