About 40 devotees of the Himalayan Institute Café on Main Street gathered on January 15 to discuss what the community can do to replace or to continue this center that the institute is closing by month’s end.
A lot of the discussion initially centered on the importance of the institute’s café and three-story building to the economic health of the Honesdale business community.
“This will be a huge loss to the businesses on Main Street,” said Michelle Bonham, a member of a group called “Shop Local,” which has been working for nearly a year to support existing businesses and attract new ones by encouraging residents to shop locally.
“I can certainly understand why the institute is closing the cafe,” said Paul Ludick, the owner of Maude Alley, a grouping of retail stores on Main Street. “They must be carrying a huge mortgage payment every month. I would estimate that their monthly payment is about $5000 or $6,000. You don’t earn that kind of money selling coffee and cookies or holding yoga classes.”
“This gentleman has said it all,” said Matthew Douzart, executive director of the Himalayan Institute, who attended the meeting. “We have been monitoring our expenses here for six years and have come to realize that we can’t carry this kind of expense for very long. It’s breaking our back.”
The draft of a letter to Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, spiritual leader of the institute, was read urging him to reverse the position or delay it for time to prepare an alternate community center. A number of attendees signed the letter.
It was noted that there are a number of gathering places in the community, like local coffee houses and retail business where people could still congregate for coffee and informal kind of gatherings. The group urged that a list of these locations be posted on the café door.
A note of optimism was voiced by Edward Cremo, who is a co-owner of a building on Main Street that is being refurbished and could be used as a replacement as a café and for multiple uses.
“We expect the work on the building will be finished in six to eight months and will be looking for the kind of activity that the café supplied,” he said.
A committee was formed, which will be led by resident Skip Mendler, to study the issue further and to try to find alternative spaces.