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Cafe’s sandwich board sayings spawn art show and book deal

ENCINITAS — The daily inspirational messages scrolled on the sandwich board in front of Encinitas Pannikin Coffee & Tea have gained a following of readers, an art show, and possibly a book deal.
The daily “musings” pop up around 3 p.m. every day and give a jolt of inspiration to coffee drinkers. Messages may read, “Open your heart maybe someone is trying to get in,” or “Life is a surprise party.”
“I love its simplicity,” Tara Myers of Torrey Highlands said.
Signboard writer Eliza Rhodes gets her ideas from a variety of sources. “They come to me in different ways,” Rhodes said. “Sometimes one comes into my head fully formed.” Other times Rhodes needs to think back on daily events or a conversation for inspiration.
The routine of posting daily writings began a
bit serendipitously when Pannikin Coffee & Tea owner Carol Holder bought a sandwich board sign and put it on the sidewalk in front of the coffee shop. Rhodes asked Holder what was going to be written on the board and it was not long before Holder gave the job of writing daily sayings to Rhodes in exchange for chai tea.
“Chai tea, it’s such a Leucadia deal,” Rhodes said. “How can I pass that up?”
Two years and more than 400 sayings later, the in-kind trade continues. In that time the daily writings have gained a following of people who stop by the Encinitas Pannikin Coffee & Tea to read the “musings.”
“Most of the reaction happens when I’m not here,” Rhodes said. And that is the way Rhodes wants to keep it. She feels readers can experience a more personal meaning if they do not know who writes the sayings.
The popularity of the daily words prompted Holder to display 15 writings as the art exhibit “Sign Language” at the Del Mar Pannikin Coffee & Tea.
While art is regularly on display at the Del Mar Pannikin Coffee & Tea, “Sign Language” has gotten a big reaction. “I’ve never had so many people stop me and tell me they’re lovely,” Holder said.
Word has gotten back to Rhodes that people like the sayings. “People ask what book it came from,” Rhodes said. “It amazes me that people will be able to repeat them months later verbatim.”
Positive responses and a nudge from Patti Judd, of Judd Designs, have pushed Rhodes to publish a book of that will combine the sayings and her line drawings. Rhodes hopes to have the book published by December.
“Sign Language” will be on display at the Del Mar Pannikin Coffee & Tea through Aug. 2 and at the Encinitas Pannikin Coffee & Tea in December.