Originally created 12/14/01

Wine and dine



AIKEN - Coffee flows freely at Taste & See, 128 Lauren St., where teens are welcome but no smoking or alcoholic beverages are allowed.

"What we wanted to do was put up some kind of place for the kids to go," said co-owner Larry McCollum. "We are family-friendly. It's just a place to come and hang out and be lazy, basically."

Mr. McCollum and his wife, Sandy, opened the coffeehouse in downtown Aiken on Oct. 10. It is a Christian establishment.

The Taste & See sells coffees and other beverages, bagels, muffins and desserts.

Coffees (75 cents to $3) include espresso, cafe breve, latte and mocha, iced mocha and cappuccino. Hot chocolate, apple cider, hot tea, milk, sodas and water also are available.

Desserts change each week. The mix includes plain, turtle or creme brulee cheesecake for $2-$3 a slice. Cake varieties rotated on the menu include red velvet, chocolate, coffee or carrot for $3 a slice. Mr. McCollum also is making a Grinch cake with green icing for the holidays.

Cookies include raspberry walnut, chocolate chip and other varieties on a rotating basis. Prices are as marked for cookies.

The coffeehouse also offers live music on weekends and has an open stage for anyone wanting to show a talent. Entertainers can show artwork, sing, dance, read stories or whatever they want.

"Anybody can come pick and grin if they want to," Mr. McCollum said. "The only requirements are it's got to be a clean act and it's got to be free." Mr. McCollum does request that none of the musical acts "sounds like screaming kittens."

The casual atmosphere of exposed brick, comfortable seating and a light-covered sofa area in the back lend to a teen's casual lifestyle. Card and board games are available in the coffeehouse.

The clientele is not limited to teens. "We've had them from 15 to 85 in here, and we get everything in between," Mr. McCollum said.

Hours of operation are from 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday-Saturday.

"What we wanted to do was put up some kind of place for the kids to go. We are family-friendly. It's just a place to come and hang out and be lazy, basically." - Larry McCollum. co-owner of Taste & See

Reach Valerie Rowell at (803) 279-6895 or valmac007@hotmail.com.