SUGAR GROVE – Chuck Linneman stood outside the Book Nook Cafe at the Sugar Grove Public Library on Tuesday and almost didn’t notice a small sign near the entrance announcing the cafe’s closure.
Linneman, a Sugar Grove resident, said he was sorry to hear the news. He said he and his wife enjoyed the opportunity to stop off at the cafe. The Book Nook serves sandwiches, sweets, soups and beverages.
“It was nice, and I know that my wife likes to have a bite to eat there,” Linneman said. “That’s where I was heading.”
Pam Herbert, the owner of the cafe, said business had slowed dramatically since the Sugar Grove Library Friends group disbanded after last year’s dismissal of previous director Beverly Holmes Hughes. Herbert said volunteers would stop and eat. Also, a used book store maintained by the Sugar Grove Library Friends sat inside the cafe, and people would stop by for that and end up buying food.
“It hurt my business a lot,” said Herbert, an Elburn resident.
Pat Graceffa, who was the president of the Friends group, said she can understand that.
“The Library Friends did bring their business and their friends and neighbors to Pam’s cafe,” Graceffa said. “I am thinking that when a group breaks up, like the wonderful Friends group we had, they move on to other volunteer activities or jobs, like I have found.”
Herbert said closing the cafe is a difficult decision. The dining area opened along with the library in August 2009. Herbert called the Book Nook her passion.
The sign announcing the closing also thanks the Book Nook’s customers.
Library board member Julie Wilson, who was at the library as part of a meet-and-greet event for new director Carol Dolin, said the intention is that the cafe would be offered again in the future.
Herbert said a cafe could be successful, but only under the right circumstances. The turmoil over Hughes’ dismissal didn’t help business.
“There needs to be some major changes to the library, to bring people in,” Herbert said.
Morgan Roberts said she enjoyed her beauty queen experience, and the Sugar Grove resident even had her own special fan at last month’s Miss Plus America Pageant in Tennessee.
Roberts, 19, the reigning Miss Illinois Plus, said she kept running into a young girl who was in town to watch her brother play in a basketball tournament. Roberts said every time the girl saw her, she treated Roberts like a celebrity.
“She would say, ‘Oh, that’s Miss Illinois,’ and she would want a picture of me,” Roberts said. “There was pure joy on her face.”
Roberts had moments of joy herself on the trip, exceeding her expectations by finishing as second runner-up at the national competition. She didn’t win the crown, but she got a trophy.
“I’m good with a trophy,” she said. “My goal was top 15. Second runner-up was a bonus.”
Juri Jones-Moore, the director of the Illinois competition, said she was “so proud” of Roberts’ showing.
“She’s top of the line, just an awesome, awesome young lady,” Jones-Moore said. “She’s the youngest title-holder I’ve ever had. She’s actually the youngest delegate I’ve ever had. She listens. She works well. I’m very pleased to have her be the title-holder for 2012. She represents well.”
Roberts said the national competition was much different than the state competition. It was bigger, and she had a 15-minute interview with judges before competing, then was asked a question about whether she would assist someone who had been shot. She said she would.
Jones-Moore said Roberts will have appearances throughout her yearlong reign, with photo shoots and charity events. She recently was part of a Relay for Life event. Roberts said she can’t wait, and this might not be her final competition.
“I love pageantry,” she said. “I think I’m going to stick with it.”
• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.