Serving coffee and Scripture, Catholic outreach café to close after one year

.- Business was growing, the coffee was great, and the Word divine, but after one year in operation, a Catholic coffee and sandwich shop in Phoenix has decided to close its doors. Café Fiat opened in July 2004 when a group of young lay Catholics decided to combine evangelization with the casual, unimposing atmosphere of a coffee shop.

"If people asked, we would talk about [our faith]," Steve Phelan told the Arizona Republic. "It is like reintroducing Catholicism to mainstream culture."

Phelan, Bill and Minden Agar, Teresa Revering and JoAnne Bouchard worked at Maggie's Place, a home for unwed expectant mothers, and decided to enter this faith-inspired venture together.

The café drew quite a bit of interest and a regular, varied clientele. Even Bishop Thomas Olmsted has stopped by a few times. And, despite its founding mission, employees did not push their faith on customers but allowed questions to emerge naturally.

The closing comes because the Agars, who own the property and have operated the cafe, will be having a child. In a letter on the café Web site, they explained that with a child on the way, they "have taken the café as far as they can and are no longer able to carry the responsibility of its operations.”

Even though the place will close after business hours Saturday, efforts to find new investors, owners or operators will continue, Phelan said. But while some options have presented themselves, nothing concrete has developed yet.

To visit Café Fiat’s website go to: http://www.cafefiat.com/

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