You Are Here - "I'd Tell Them I Like the People"

Roy Williams at the Phoenix Coffeehouse. Photo by Kristine Williams
Roy Williams works at the Phoenix Coffeehouse in Lakewood. His favorite place is the Marjorie Building where the coffeehouse is located. Roy, who is 42, is a man of few words, but he ably described what many of us love most about Lakewood. It’s a place to find friends, he said, where kindness is met in passing on the street. We met with Roy on a Saturday afternoon in January at the Phoenix Coffeehouse on Detroit Avenue.

When I asked Roy, “What do you like about Lakewood?”, his reply was quick and sure: “Nice people.” That Lakewood is home to many nice folks is a theme that connects many, if not all, of the people I’ve talked with during the course of this project. I asked Roy to expand on this idea for me. “It’s nice to have friends in Lakewood,” he said, emphasizing that he has a lot of friends here. “Like Julie, the boss. She’s nice,” he said, referring to Julie Hutchison, owner of the Phoenix Coffeehouse where Roy works. He also enjoys spending time with his friend Mariana at the coffeehouse.

Working at the Phoenix has given Roy the opportunity to see some of his favorite local musicians up close and personal. He shared with me that Anne E. DeChant, Cleveland-area singer/songwriter, comes in to the Phoenix on occasion to work on her computer. “I’m her number one fan,” he says, smiling.

Roy is also a big fan of many local businesses, particularly the Record Exchange. When I asked him what it was about the Record Exchange that he liked, he told me about their collection of videos and DVD’s, and that he is always able to find some of his favorites on sale there, like Disney movies. Roy also likes Marc’s, across the street from Phoenix, because of their sales.

And like many other Lakewood residents, Roy cited good public transportation as a key asset for our town. Roy said he uses the RTA frequently to get around Lakewood and other communities.

My final question to Roy is one I ask everyone who participates in this project: If you were to convince someone why they should move to Lakewood, what would you tell them? The answer may come as no surprise: “I’d tell them I like the people.”

And so do we, Roy.

You Are Here is a photo-documentary project highlighting Lakewood residents and what they think and feel about their city. We feel that a project like this shares a great affinity with many of the community efforts happening in our city. We are witnessing the emergence of an engaged, pro-active and committed community dedicated to creating the kind of place that we want to live in. But the question remains: who are you? To that end, we would like to use this project as a forum to meet as many Lakewood residents as possible. We would like to photograph you in your favorite place in Lakewood and discuss what you feel makes Lakewood a special place. These biographical vignettes will be published regularly in the Lakewood Observer. Publishing them in the Observer means that you get to share, and other people get to learn about, who you are and what you feel makes Lakewood a special place. Ultimately, a quilt of individuals and experiences will be available to all who live here, and those who do not live here yet, strengthening the sense of community that is Lakewood, Ohio.

Are you interested in participating? Contact Jason Weiner and Kristine Williams at or by calling 216.221.5146.
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Volume 3, Issue 3, Posted 12:12 AM, 01.29.07