If Opening Bell Keeps Giving Away the Free Stuff, Might as Well Sell Your Coffee Futures

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There's nothing like a dreary Monday to get the week off to a drowsy, snail's pace start. And, with weather like this, Roasted knows it's gonna take a cup of coffee, or four, just to make it through 'til the whistle blows. So, it's always nice when the first steaming-hot cup of the day is free.

And, as Roasted discovered this morning, Opening Bell Coffee offers its customers free drip coffee every Monday between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. But if you're craving a "Bluechip Cafe Mocha," "Closely Held Cafe Ole" or one of the shop's other Wall-Street-themed specialty drinks, you'll still have to part with some of your cash reserves. The free offer only includes the shops assortment of fresh-brewed coffees.

Opening Bell has garnered a couple Best of Dallas nods in the past, as well as some winks from other local media outlets, and, as far as its laid-back vibe, rock-and-roll-meets-Wall-Street décor and Fair Trade coffee goes, the place deserves the accolades.

This morning, however, the rain accentuated the shop's only real drawback: no store-front parking.

Located in the basement of South Side on Lamar (the old Sears Building at 1409 South Lamar Street), the lot for the shop's customers is located on the other side of Belleview Street. But, while the across-the-street parking may deter some grab-n-go java junkies, for those who need a place read The Wall Street Journal or a plug to jack in the ol' laptop in peace, Opening Bell has plenty of tables, padded chairs, and, um, a video projector that customers can use for "small" meetings.

But, this morning, there was only one guy camped out using the shop's free Wi-Fi. The rest of the customers were trickling in from the South Side's lofts and from area businesses. Several regulars greeted the lone barista by name and others lingered for some Monday-morning, "how-was-your-weekend?" small talk. The barista said that's how the morning rush is most mornings.

And, if Opening Bell feels like a neighborhood bar crossed with a coffee shop crossed with a music venue, well, it is. There's a stage in the back corner that features live music every night of the week, and the shop offers a modest selection of wines and beers, which are 25 percent off from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. for happy hour.

Opening Bell, you may remember, opened in March 2003 as Standard & Pours Coffee & Stocks, and Unfair Park reported all the legal brouhaha behind the shop's name change back in 2006. But the switch to Opening Bell doesn't seem to have hurt the coffee shop's reputation as one of the area's best.

This morning, Roasted preferred the Columbian, which was smooth, nutty and straightforward, over the more full-bodied flavor of the Opening Bell House Blend, but it's hard to go wrong with any of the shop's coffees.

Roasted can't actually vouch for the Closing Bell blend - the house decaf. Sorry. There are some lines this caffeine addict just won't cross.

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