Cafe to reopen after renovation

Osama’s Coffee Zone will reopen in its North Ninth Street location.
Monday, February 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:08 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Osama is back

Columbia coffee drinkers who have gone without a cup of coffee from Osama since the fall won’t have to wait much longer. The local business owner plans to reopen his North Ninth Street location around Feb. 21.

Osama Yanis, who used to own and run two Coffee Zone locations on Ninth Street, sold his southern shop in October and closed the northern venue for extensive renovations in November.

The restaurant owner says that his decision to sell the 406 S. Ninth St. location close to campus was not something he planned.

“It just happened,” he said. “It came up in an offer and I sold it. It was not for sale; it was just that the offer was too good to refuse.”

Yanis said he’d been planning the renovation of his northern shop for two years. He has spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on the changes.

Major changes at the renovated Coffee Zone

Yanis said customers will hardly recognize the newly renovated Coffee Zone. One of the biggest changes will be the atmosphere: The 11 N. Ninth St. location will have wireless Internet and be a non-smoking establishment.

“It used to be very smoky. Way too smoky,” he said.

The new decor will have a Mediterranean theme.

“We will have Mediterranean rugs hanging on the wall. I got a few paintings from Jordan of old cafes in Jordan. So it will be more ethnic than Osama’s, more of a Mediterranean coffee house,” said Yanis, whose wife, Lori Yanis, was instrumental in the decorating.

Getting student clientele back

Jacqueline Janus, a MU junior, was a regular at Osama’s Coffee Zone near campus.

“I started going my freshman year before and after classes, two or three times a week,” she said. “It was the closest place to campus with quality coffee.”

Janus said the remaining Coffee Zone’s distance from campus will likely deter her from resuming her status as one of Yanis’ regulars.

“I don’t think I will go there because it isn’t a good location for me,” Janus said. “I won’t walk that far when there are closer places. Even though I love it, my time is so limited.”

Yanis plans to address this disadvantage through promotional specials aimed at drawing his student clientele back.

“We will have lots of specials, we have the best gyros in Columbia, and they like it,” he said. “The lunch special is about $5, which is affordable for the students to eat.”

Another draw for local residents might be the building itself, which is part of Columbia’s Special Business District and was recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Septagon Construction is the general contractor for the job and was responsible for the demolition and rebuilding of Coffee Zone. Septagon tore down the internal walls of the shop to expose the original brick structure.

“We gutted the entire facility,” said Aaron Sauer, a Septagon representative. “There is not a whole lot left that we started with.”

Moroccan décor and gyros

In addition to exposing the original brick walls that were hidden behind gypsum board, Yanis also had light fixtures shipped in from Morocco that will hang throughout the cafe. His menu selections will be familiar to fans of the campus location.

“We are serving gyros and shish-kabobs and Mediterranean foods, the same like at Osama’s,” he says. “There will be lots of Mediterranean sweets.”

Most of the sweets found at Coffee Zone will be imported from San Francisco and Detroit, and the food will be prepared daily. Selections will include old standbys, such as White Chocolate Chai Mocha, a favorite of Janus’.

“There was nothing that could make my day more than that,” she said.

Yanis plans to complete the renovations within the next month. Coffee Zone will be open seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to midnight.

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