ARABICA cafes have proved to be popular gathering spots for Greater Clevelanders since 1976. Carl Jones opened the first Arabica coffee house that year on Coventry Blvd. (see COVENTRY VILLAGE BUSINESS DISTRICT), and though it was damaged by a fire soon after, it re-opened in May 1977. Meant to be a "low-key" setting where patrons could take their time over a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy pastry, the concept soon had a loyal following. Some patrons brought along paperwork, others met business associates, and others enjoyed a game of chess. In association with Jean Dooley and Susan Skroc, Jones opened a second Arabica in the Arcade downtown in 1979, and in 1982 the third cafe opened on Shaker Square. In 1985 a new ownership team of Marvin Schwartz, David Reich, and Charles Diamond took over the chain. Arabica Cafes, Inc., became the corporate identity, with Diamond as president.
Through a system of licensing the Arabica concept soon grew. In 1989 another Arabica opened in Parma Hts. It was followed shortly after by other coffee houses in UNIV. HTS., LAKEWOOD, BRECKSVILLE, Fairmount Circle, Hudson, at Kent State Univ., at Westwood Town Center. In 1994 a Columbus Arabica made its debut. The basic format of the Arabica cafes has not changed. Besides coffee, tea, and pastry, they also serve soup, salad, sandwiches, and ice cream. Periodically the coffee houses sponsor poetry nights or musical performances, and even host photographic exhibits. In April 1995 Arabica Coffee House Systems was formed. Its aim was to expand the chain through franchising operations. Headquarters for the firm were in the Colonial Arcade downtown.