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Weekend Life

Tales from the Motherhood: Former Batavia library café owner leaves lasting impression

Terry Kasper
Terry Kasper

I’m a huge fan of saying thank you to people who’ve made a difference in my life. This one falls into the better-late-than-never category, but Terry Kasper, former proprietor of the 10 South café at the Batavia Public Library, is one of those people.

It might surprise him to know that, but it’s true. A fixture at the café for seven and a half years until he sold the business to Steven Kilberg at the end of August, Terry was, quite literally, the first person in Batavia I had a real conversation with when I scoped out the town as a potential place to raise my family.

I scoped out nearly every town in Chicagoland. On this day in particular, as I did many days when I was in my “scoping” mood, I grabbed my notebook, dropped the kids off at school (we lived in Naperville at the time), and hit the road hoping to discover the place that felt like home.

My first stop was always the local library. If a town didn’t have a decent library with a good vibe, it didn’t make the cut.

On that day about seven years ago, I discovered that not only does Batavia have a way-more-than-decent library, it has a library with a café; the first thing one sees when walking through the library doors.

A café? A café! I recall remarking then how fortunate Batavia parents are, that they can come to this library with their little ones for story time, make friends and easily keep the conversation and connection going over coffee, juice (for the kids) and even lunch, if they’re up for it. Wow. What a dream that would have been for me as a new mom so many years ago, but I digress.

I was quite fortunate that Terry was at the helm of this library’s café when I stopped in on my first visit to town, because he made me feel welcome right away.

In fact, after a brief conversation that first day he even loaned me a little book about Batavia’s history. I remember how surprised I felt then, that this guy would just loan a book to a complete stranger. I guess he knew I’d be back. He was right.

First impressions are the most important, and I’m sure his warmth and quiet generosity had a little something to do with why I felt so drawn to this little town and why we eventually moved here a year or so later.

I told him, a time or two, how much I appreciated that,  but I don’t know if he realized just how much my kids (10 and 7 when we moved here five-and-a-half years ago) got a kick out of seeing him. His friendly wave never got old.

“Let’s go see Terry,” I’d say, when really, I mainly wanted to get their butts to the library.

“Can we get smoothies?” Noah always asked, but Holly usually wanted to stay for lunch. She liked Terry’s roast beef sandwiches. She liked dipping them into the au jus he served on the side.

So, yeah, I bribed them with visits to Terry’s cafe. Yes, yes I did.

My kids weren’t the only ones who enjoyed Terry and his food.

“He made a great fruit salad,” recalls Michele Martzell, library employee. “Everybody enjoyed it.”

Golf will figure prominently in the next chapter of Terry’s life, he says. Though he welcomes the change, the transition may be a little weird for him. “I’ve always had a couple of jobs all my life,” he admitted.

Before he sold his business to Kilberg (who renamed the café Chapters Coffee House and Café) I asked him what he enjoyed most about his time there.

“All of the different kinds of people that come in here,” he said. That doesn’t surprise me. I’m betting he made them feel welcome, too.

We’ll miss you, Terry. Thanks again.

• Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her husband, Todd, and their two children, Noah and Holly. Contact her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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