By Lauren Zaepfel
North Tonawanda natives Amy and Jay Berent have brought their popular Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics store to town.
City of North Tonawanda Mayor Arthur G. Pappas welcomed the couple during a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Tuesday at 31 Webster St.
"It's such a pleasure to see another new business open up here in North Tonawanda," Pappas said.
"We're super excited to be here," Amy Berent said. "It's like a dream come true. This (North Tonawanda) is our hometown, and it's amazing that we have this opportunity."
The couple opened their first Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics location in Lockport in 2015.
After experiencing great response from customers, Berent said they decided to open up another shop in North Tonawanda.
She explained, "Webster Street has come so far since we lived here as kids. It's completely different, and this kind of area is literally like a Norman Rockwell painting over here now. It's just that small-town America feel, but it's in a big city, so it's a little different in that it's just very enticing for us to have the opportunity to come here."
Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics store's walls are covered with shelves showcasing various comic books and pop culture-related merchandise.
Pappas said, "If you look inside, you see only success, because it's so well done; so well set up. I just walked in the door about 10 minutes ago and I'm looking around thinking, 'Wow, what happened to this place? It's spectacular.' And I think they're going to do just great."
The store also features a café complete with seating area. The menu offers unique drinks, including bubble tea, a black tea-based drink containing tapioca balls. The drink is offered in a variety of fruity flavors.
Berent said Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics is the first business to offer bubble tea in Niagara County.
The café also offers "historically accurate coffee," Berent said. She said Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics may be the only location to offer these coffees in the U.S.
Berent said they hired coffee expert Kevin Sinnott Berent to "find out the beans and the roasting methods and the grinding methods for certain time periods that we wanted to focus on. We were able to recreate those coffees from those time periods. They're so authentic and so good."
One coffee includes the "1964 Beatles Brew," named after the year the Beatles came to the U.S. for the first time.
A 1977 coffee, in reference to the "Blizzard of '77," is also offered Berent said.
"We try to do a different one every day; sometimes it will be the same one a couple of days in a row," Berent said. "But just depending on what we're able to get at that time of month, that's what we'll bring in and serve."
Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics will soon offer a free literacy program, which currently takes place in Lockport, at the North Tonawanda location, as well. The program encourages comic book authors to help people improve reading and comprehension skills through comic books.
When coming up with the Pulp 716 Coffee and Comics business model, Berent said, "We wanted to put everything that we liked into one shop."
She added, "We wanted to step it up a little bit" and "make us unique" compared to other comic book stores in the area.