By Ted Lehr, SuperNoBueno.Wordpress.com
So, I’m a bit of a café guy. Most weekdays after work, I can routinely be found at various coffee or tea shops around the city working on a writing project or watching stupid YouTube videos (are there any other kind?) on my laptop.
Back in September, a new spot opened in Akron: Srina Tea House & Cafe. Located at 975 Kenmore Blvd., just a stone’s throw from the Kenmore Branch Library and across the street from the Rialto Theatre, Srina was a desperately needed (and requested) addition to the BLVD District.
Equal parts tea house and café, Srina offers a great selection of lunch items like salads, wraps and soups (even ramen!) all curated by chefs who work closely with owner Monaqui Porter-Young and manager Lee Porter to strike the right balance of healthy, yet delicious, fare for the customer.
I’m usually at the shop around 3 PM, so I tend to fall more in the snack zone. My favorite at Srina? THE BAGELS! Soft and plump, they are imported from Just Bagels in New York. Kettle-boiled and made with “genuine” NY water, my favorite is the “everything” bagel—toasted--with butter (natch). The golden-brown outside is crunchy, while the interior is soft and buttery. It’s just, man, forget about it. Treat yourself to one. (And if a person is so inclined, there are an assortment of flavored cream cheeses to accompany your bagel that will level up the game way beyond 100.)
I guess I sorta buried the lead for this review because, well, the tea. The tea is phenomenal. Flavorful and complex, the organic, loose leaves come directly from Paradise Farm in Sri Lanka. With both health benefits and taste in mind, Srina’s tea is the real deal. I tend to be a cold tea guy, so the Hibiscus iced tea is my jam. It has fruity, floral notes that are both exotic and satisfying. As for hot tea, it was recently recommended by a staff member that I try the Black Vanilla. Both robust and flavorful, it’s proof that a quality tea doesn’t need dressed up with milk or sugar. It’s good enough to stand on its own.
Speaking of the staff, I think Srina boasts one of the better crews in local retail. Friendly, knowledgeable and attentive, they are looking to provide an exceptional experience for the customer. And don’t show up having a bad day when either Charlee or Nina is behind the counter, because they’ll see that you end up smiling whether you want to or not.
And to be honest, you are probably gonna go in and see someone you know there. In recent visits, I’ve run into Tina Boyes of the Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance, musician Chris Butler of “The Waitresses,” and Kenny Lambert of the “Just A Dad From Akron” clothing brand/community outreach organization. Srina is the spot in Kenmore for meetings, meet-ups, dates and general chill sessions.
Not only is Srina a great, convenient, spot to have a hot drink or grab a bite to eat, it’s an aspirational business in the community. Beautifully decorated, thoughtfully curated and run under the banner of excellent customer service, it is an example to businesses in the community and city what they can be, only Srina is doing it right now. To me, that’s something worth supporting.
Srina is located at 975 Kenmore Blvd., Akron, Ohio, 44314. They are open Mon-Sat from 9a-6p. Ph: (234) 334-1599. Gift cards are available in any amount. Visit their website at: Srina.com.
(Ted Lehr is a freelance writer and pop culture blogger from Kenmore. When he isn’t hanging out at Srina, he can be spotted on the bench in front of Pierre’s Brooklyn Pizza & Deli eating a slice or combing the 25 cent boxes at Kenmore Komics & Games looking for undiscovered treasures. His writing can be found daily at SuperNoBueno.Wordpress.com.)