Employees at Starbucks on West Main Street don't have to wait to be told what Mayor Jim Gray will order when he comes in. They start mixing his favorite brew when they see him coming down the street.
In Starbucks lingo, make that a six-shot (half decaf, half regular), tall, 2 percent, extra foam espresso machiatto.
Gray stops by this downtown Starbucks for coffee two or three days a week, but not on days he has a breakfast meeting. Another favorite haunt is Third Street Stuff coffee shop on North Limestone.
Gray loves his java hot and strong enough to hold up a spoon. He doesn't always drink coffee first thing, but sometime during the morning. Never during the day. Never at night.
A lot of times the mayor schedules meetings at Starbucks, usually between 7 and 9 a.m. A best time to talk with business leader Jim Host is 8 a.m. Saturday.
Gray likes the informality of coffee shops. Whether Starbucks or Third Street Stuff, "It's relaxing. I see people from so many different walks of life," he said. On Friday he bumped into LexArts president and chief executive officer Jim Clark.
Adele Robertson was sitting at the counter Friday reading emails on her computer, as she does several times a week, when Gray came in. He said hello and asked how she was doing. Not that the two really know each other; it's just that kind of atmosphere.
Robertson, who teaches at Eastern Kentucky University, said Starbucks was a good place for Gray to hang out. "It's informal, friendly, some of everybody in here. Helps him keep his finger on the pulse of what's going on," she said.
David Mast of Paducah, who was finishing up a quick meeting at Starbucks, said, "Getting out, having conversations with lots of people is a great way for your mayor to hear what people on the street are saying."