New York Bagels and Coffee Ice Cubes: Electric City Wheels and Grinds
By Bob Canter
Posted: May 31, 2019
You can get a good bagel in Monticello – a really good one, too. I know my bagels: I prepare dozens of bagel and cream cheese sandwiches each year at the Jewish Food and Cultural Festival in Tallahassee. So you can trust me. When it comes to bagels, I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
So what am I talking about?
Electric City Wheels and Grinds, at 166 East Dogwood Street in downtown Monticello. But there’s a lot more than just really good bagels. This is your quintessential small-town cafe/bistro, where the service is fast and friendly and where the owner, Margie Stern, remembers the names of her repeat customers and what their favorites items are – we regulars sometimes don’t even have to order.
Don’t be confused by the unusual name. Margie started out by renting motorized bicycles along with selling coffee to early morning bike riders. Some travel guidebooks still list the address as the old Jackson’s Drug Store, now long gone. The classic old “Rexall” signs still stenciled on the windows are the last vestige of what was once a local landmark
Everything about Electric City says “welcome.” Margie makes you feel right at home from the moment you walk in.
As with so much else about Monticello, Electric City exudes a small-town look and feel. There’s the Route 66 décor, and in some ways Electric City Wheels & Grinds would fit right in on The Mother Road. Most of the towns on the Route are small, often in rural areas. The setting and atmosphere harken back to the 1950’s, to a simpler America, when small towns thrived and before the Interstate Highways destroyed much of their economies, and vibrancy.
But not here. Electric City is that small-town cafe, with a mix of country store and boutique shop to boot.
The bike rentals are long gone, but Margie still grinds batches of delicious coffee (Lucky Goat, a Tallahassee-based brand), and has what might be the most diverse menu in Jefferson County. The eclectic menu is “out of necessity,” says Margie. “In a small town, I need to offer something different.”
Specialty coffees (the Mocha is my personal favorite, made with real Ghirardelli chocolate sauce), cappucinos, lattes, espressos, or a straight plain brew are all available, and expertly made. Pick from 10 different flavor shots to add a boost to your favorite brew. And if you order an iced coffee, Margie uses coffee ice cubes. Now try to find THAT anywhere else in the area!
But there’s a lot more than just the great coffee. In addition to the aforementioned bagels, there is an array of unique sandwiches (Moroccan Cheese Flat, RBTK Club, the Biker’s BLT), chicken salad on a croissant or ciabatta roll, turkey or roast beef melts, and hot dogs plain or with everything.
Stay for dessert: Electric Wheels and Grinds is Monticello’s only real ice cream parlor, Blue Bunny brand ice cream.
A unique line of gifts line the shelves, including goats milk skin care products, locally-produced honey, olive oil soap, locally-produced crafts, such as gift cards, gift bags, magnets and jewelry, all representing the work of farmers and artisans in the region.
Come and stay a spell; play a round of chess or checkers while you enjoy your espresso and croissant. Or just sit and enjoy some peace and quiet.
“I have everything here that makes me happy,” says Margie.
Come in and sample some of her delicious treats, and you’ll leave happy, too.
Bob Canter and his wife have been Monticello residents since 2015. Previously, Bob had a career as a public affairs executive for a Fortune 500 company and later as a Chamber of Commerce executive. You can see Bob most mornings in downtown Monticello walking Kona, a retired Racing Greyhound.