Daily appointment at Tim Hortons

From left, Sue Lee, Patty Niquette, Pat Hartwick, Paul Butkis, Darrell Osbourn, and Mike Niquette during their morning get together at Tim Hortons on Saturday. Butkis, Hartwick, and Lee are Oxford residents, while the Niquettes reside in Lake Orion and Osbourn in Leonard.

Photostory by Teddy Rydquist
Leader Staff Writer
For residents who frequent the Tim Hortons/Cold Stone Creamery location at 590 N. Lapeer Road, the group of senior citizens sitting in lawn chairs in front of the store has become a familiar sight.
This group, which usually ranges from six-to-ten people, has been meeting for their 9 a.m. coffee, and some Timbit doughnut holes, for nearly a decade.
Formerly taking up residence inside the chain restaurant, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in March forced a change of plans. With dine-in services temporarily closed, the seniors gathered in their cars in the parking lot for a couple of weeks and, as soon as Mother Nature allowed, took their party outside.
On Saturday, August 1, this Leader reporter decided to check out the festivities firsthand. Jokingly referring to themselves as the “BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair” club, the group welcomed me in and we laughed and drank our coffee – black in my case – for nearly two hours as I learned more about how this unique routine came to be.
When the whether warmed up and the group began meeting outside this spring, they initially did so in front of the vacant building in the same parking lot, which previously housed a Chili’s Grill & Bar and Montana’s Rib and Chop House.
Noticing this, Geoff Bullen, the owner of the Tim Hortons franchise, invited the seniors to use the space in front of his business, where they have been ever since.
In an excellent example of professionalism and hospitality, Bullen takes time to talk with the group regularly and has even given them gift cards to use at their leisure.
Typically hanging out until 11 a.m., or whenever the sun reaches their spot and it becomes too hot, conversations among the group consist of playful ribbing, the lives of their adult children, reminiscing about events from their past, and everyday happenings. Aside from the adult children part, a lot of these topics are the same discussions people from younger demographics have.
Stationed right by where cars leave the drive-thru, the seniors wave to nearly every vehicle on their way out, many of whom see them regularly and look forward to the encounter as part of their daily lives.
The group ranges in age from their mid-60s to 90-years-old and is made up of residents of Lake Orion, Oxford, and Leonard.
Always smiling and delivering positive messages, feel free to take a few minutes to speak with the group next time you make the trip to Tim Hortons, you will walk away with something much more valuable than a coffee or breakfast item.
As for the sun, the seniors have been half-kiddingly angling Bullen for an awning to extend their outings. Perhaps that is a project for 2021.

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