Coffee shop closes

Church couldn't keep up with demand

The hundred or so teens who spent Friday and Saturday nights at Frontlines coffee shop had no place to go this weekend.

Frontlines is closing its doors after two years of providing a safe place for youths to play pool, darts, video games or just hang out.

The decision came when sponsors -- members of the New Creation Church -- decided it just wasn't a safe place anymore.

"Most of the kids were good, but there were more and more trouble-makers," said Jason Haskell, pastor of the New Creations Church.

As the number of teens who took advantage of the coffee shop's activities increased, so did the number of calls to police, the complaints from neighboring businesses and the fights that had to be broken up.

More than 100 teens stopped by the Victory Way site last Friday, which is more than the facility can hold, so teens spilled onto the street and into the alleyway.

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta said the number of complaints coming from neighboring businesses and passers-by has increased, and officers have found significant amounts of litter -- including drugs and drug paraphernalia -- in the back parking lot.

"I'm disappointed to see Frontlines close because it provided a pretty valuable service to a group of good kids who were just looking for something to do," Vanatta said.

Haskell said the closure is the case of one bad apple spoiling it for the bunch.

"We, as a church, decided it was best to close it down for now," he said. "I don't know what'll happen in the future."

He said the church will continue to keep a look out for a better location for the popular coffee shop, but the real issue is staffing.

Two people manned Frontlines, which wasn't enough to oversee the volume of youths who showed up.

"It was a great idea, and we still have a heart to do it, but we need a better location and more help," Haskell said. "I think it's a positive thing, but it became a little too much for our church."

In the meantime, he hopes the Boys and Girls Club of Craig will provide an alternative.

Frontlines was opened two years ago by a couple who made close connections with the 10 to 15 teens who spent time at the coffee shop. That couple has since moved, and the personal contact changed, Haskell said.

"We saw some kids give their hearts to the Lord and come to church, sometimes get off drugs," he said.

The change in staff changed the role of Frontlines.

"We basically became overseers," Haskell said. "We lost our connection (with the teens)."

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.