SCRANTON — Doctors Robert Paulino and Mladen Jecmenica felt compelled to provide cheer for the community when Scranton was named one of the unhappiest cities in America in a 2014 poll. Paulino is a hospice and palliative care physician at Wilkes-Barre VA Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. Jecmenica is a doctor of internal medicine for the Wright Center Medical Group in Scranton.
Best friends, the area doctors met in 2009 during their residency at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. They partnered for the opening of Adezzo, a new coffee shop and lounge almost secretly nestled inside the historic Casey Laundry Building in the heart of the Electric City.
The plan to open the coffee shop started when Paulino was paying his rent.
“I used to live in the building,” he said. “I came downstairs to this empty space to meet the curator of the building and I was asking why this space wasn’t rented out, why nobody was using it.”
That’s when he found out there once was a coffee shop in that space.
“The pipes, the electricity — it was already set up like a coffee shop,” Paulino said. “And I always wanted a side business, so I decided to open a coffee shop.”
He presented the idea to Jecmenica, who was instantly on board.
Jecmenica brought in the help of his sister, Tijana, and her husband, Pedja Grujic, as additional business partners.
“My sister and brother-in-law are in finance and we grouped together. They’re MBA business students studying at UConn (University of Connecticut),” Jecmenica said.
The Grujics handle the finances from Connecticut. On site, Paulino is in charge of the daily operations and Jecmenica tackles the interior design which was thoughtfully planned out.
“Everything involved with the decor is about bringing people together,” Jecmenica said. “There’s a reason we didn’t want TVs in here. We wanted to have a communal table so random strangers could sit together and get involved in the conversation.”
The decor includes a wall covered in picture frames (paying homage to their neighbor and local business Marquis Art and Frame), refurbished Singer sewing machine tables and a patio with a garden. Even the bathroom catches people’s attention. First-time customer Troy Taylor, of Dallas, said Adezzo “has the most beautiful bathroom in downtown Scranton.”
Adezzo — the name is a combination of two Italian words — opened for business in June. “There’s a special meaning behind the word,” Paulino said. “I took the words adesso and intermezzo and combined them.”
Adesso means right now, in the moment. Intermezzo means short break or intermission. Together, they create Adezzo, and a mantra to take a short break and live in the moment.
Paulino said Adezzo’s menu is typical of other coffee shops. The twist, however, is serving primarily locally made products. The coffee is from Electric City Roasting Company. The soup, salad and sandwiches are made by Zuppa Del Giorno, also in Scranton.
“The idea was to have everything supplied locally,” Jecmenica said. Paulino and Jecmenica said their bakery items are delivered weekly from New York City’s Martha’s Country Bakery. “We wanted to share something we love from when we lived in New York City with Scrantontonians,” Jecmenica said.
Before the coffee shop opened, Paulino said he lived a repeated cycle of going to work and going home. Now, after sharing Adezzo with Scranton, both Paulino and Jecmenica feel more at home and part of the community.
“We love that people are still finding out about us,” Jecmenica said. “We’re the best kept secret in Scranton, and we like it that way.”
Well, now the secret’s out.
Reach Justin Adam Brown at 570-991-6652 or on Twitter @wkdr