New look, original charm

Veronica’s Coffee House in Old Town Kenai will unveil a slightly new look to pair with its same endearing charm this Wednesday.

Longtime musician at Veronica’s, Shannon Darling, took over the shop’s lease on May 15. She said the building’s face-lift began on May 26 and is scheduled for completion Wednesday. Renovations include updates to the floors, appliances, decorations and menu. Darling anticipates a positive reaction from Veronica’s patrons.

“I think (people) are going to be ecstatic,” she said. “I think they’ll love the changes. It’s the same, it really is. We’ve just kind of enhanced it.”

The investment in Veronica’s is a personal one for the Kasilof resident.

“I’ve played here for 33 years with local musicians,” Darling said “This is kind of a little dream of mine, to own it.”

John Oskolkoff constructed the building in 1918. Veronica’s has evolved into a local favorite in Kenai that showcases community musicians and art. Darling said the changes being made will not affect the structure or atmosphere of the coffee house, but will make it easy to clean.

With the help of past owner Daine Hooper, of Kenai, and business partner Arnie Nelson, of Kasilof, Darling also replaced the dishware, added a boardwalk outside and cleaned the building inside and out. She said the project costs will total between $15,000 and $30,000.

Hooper, who co-owned Veronica’s with friend Kathy Miller for six years starting in 2008, said she has offered her help to Darling as much as she needs it.

“I was so excited when Shannon called me, because I have such a passion and a love for this place,” Hooper said. “Veronica’s was always my favorite restaurant. It came along at a point in my life where it was just perfect.”

Hooper said the combination of great food, local musical talent and historic charm is what keeps people coming back to Veronica’s over and over.

“The one thing I’m most excited about is (Shannon’s) excitement and enthusiasm to carry on Veronica’s as it should be,” Hooper said.

In addition to the reopening scheduled for Wednesday, Veronica’s will host a grand opening beginning Sunday and lasting through June 20. The grand opening will feature musicians every night.

Previously, Veronica’s was open from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday. Now, Darling will keep it running seven days a week from 8 a.m.-8 p.m., and keep it open until 10 p.m. for musicians on weekends.

Mary Ann Alfano, Veronica’s original owner, will return to repaint the building’s iconic sign in a few weeks, Darling said.

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