Article Contributed by
When you step through the doors at 98 Forest Avenue in Jamestown, you kind of go back in time a little bit.
This isn’t because the décor is outdated or you are entering your great grandmothers plastic couch covered living room. Instead, when you go to Joe’Z for “a cuppa joe and a side of dough” you are going back to a time and place where local community members gathered to enjoy each other’s company. The importance of having community centers is widely recognized in small town economic studies.
Joe’Z Coffee House offers the Forest Heights neighborhood, as well as all of Jamestown, an opportunity to connect and have a great conversation. Owners Patty & Tom Franco have established a warm, safe, inviting environment, not to mention some great coffee and outstanding pastries.
If you ever get the chance to sit down with Tom & Patty, it’s an amazing opportunity to hear some wonderful stories from two genuinely nice people who really care about their neighbors and about preserving a bit of the old world Jamestown charm. Tom, who has pretty much spent his life living between Allen Street and Prather Avenue, has been part of a group of citizens who have tried to revive the Forest Heights area.
In taking over the Johnson residence on Forest Ave, Joe and Patty started Joe’Z Coffee House in honor of her father, the late Joseph Zanetta (JoeZ to friends!). In between two tours of active duty in both World War II and the Korean War, as well as afterwards, Joe Z enjoyed a successful sales career with the Standard Brands company, which sold the well-known products Fleischmann’s Yeast, Gold Medal Flour and… Chase & Sanborn Coffee! You can even sit at Joe’s old wooden office chair at one of the kitschy 50s tables. There are significant tributes to Joe’s life all throughout the décor of the coffee shop.
The fireplace mantle showcases some particularly special pieces of honor. On display, in the center, is Joe’s memorial flag given to honor his veteran status. The Coffee House has a strong connection to the Veteran & Military Community. Through the Joseph P. Dwyer Peer Support Project, Tom & Patty offer any veteran, any time they stop in, a free cup of coffee and pastry.
This incredible project was started by the Dwyer family in Eastern NYS, after their war-hero son lost his battle with PTSD. A Forest Heights Desert Storm vet/resident stopped into the Coffee House one day and was telling Tom about the Dwyer project. Quite a phenomenon has developed from there. Every 2nd Tuesday there is a men’s veteran group and on the 3rd Wednesday of the month there is a women’s veteran group that gathers to sit and just talk with each other.
It really doesn’t matter when or how the veteran served, Franco observed, “a bond is there and the comradery the group shares is tangible.” The local Blue Star Mothers group also supports the vets at Joe’Z’s; they have a small gift bag available for any veteran there. It includes a small US Flag and Blue Star pin.
Tom is quick to point out that there are several “groups” that congregate at the coffee house on a regular basis. Be it retired BPU employees, basketball teams from the 40s (I bet many of you can recall the Wiz Kids from the Boys & Girls Club!) or a group of pastors who meet there to write their Sunday sermons, the environment at the coffee house fosters a real community atmosphere.
Both Patty and Tom are active volunteers within different groups including the Drug and Alcohol Council and the St. James Parish. They both have a real gift to connect with people and make them feel good. Not only do you leave with a full belly (TRY THE EGG PIE/WAFFLE combo!) but a warm heart too.
And just in case you missed the message, on the corner, outside of the house on Prather Ave, there is a line set up between two poles and a sign that says “Keeping Each Other Warm In Jamestown.” During the winter months, Tom or Patty will hang on the line donated Gloves, Scarves and Hats for anyone who needs them. They are put out in the late afternoon and usually by morning, Tom says, all are gone.
People can and do make a difference in this world.
The Jamestown Gazette is proud to recognize our dealers, outstanding corporate citizens of our county. This week, the Gazette especially thanks Joe’Z Coffee House for the faithfully carrying The Jamestown Gazette, The People’s Paper, for the benefit of their customers, our readers.