WALLINGFORD – The owner of Green Kettle Coffee hopes to create a vacant downtown storefront as a new coffee shop, focusing on locally roasted beans on Center Street.
“I am really excited for people to come see it and, in general, serve people coffee, connect with them,” said Kristen Gilbride, owner and resident of Wallingford. Gilbride, a New Jersey native, moved to Wallingford in 2020 after her sister moved to the city.
It hopes to complete the renovation of 208 Center St. Work includes replacing the floor, building a dividing wall, installing a coffee bar and adding a second bathroom.
Her vision of the space when complete is an upscale and relaxed atmosphere, adorned with local antiques. She is particularly interested in finding artifacts from the city’s 19th century manufacturing history of coffee mills.
Working with coffee roasters in Connecticut, they plan to offer a rotating menu of drip coffee selections, as well as flavored espresso and latte. Gilbride also plans to source pastries and snacks from local bakeries for serving.
“I’ve been just a coffee maker, always like to have machines and espresso machines and things like that, and try different kinds of roasts and see different profiles and try to improve my palette for that,” said Gilbride, 26. Lavender latte that finds a balance between not being overly sweet or aftertaste, and pouring coffee. She says every flavor has a time and place.
When cafes closed at the start of the pandemic, Gilbride lost the environment in which she grew up studying and meeting her friends. She formed a plan to open her own store and has spent the past two years searching for a venue and doing logistics. Wallingford’s diverse mix of business, affordable commercial space, and a walkable downtown drew her.
“There are great coffee shops in Connecticut in general and in this general area,” she said, “but I definitely think it’s convenient because it’s downtown Wallingford and has its own parking, free parking, and definitely a lot of walkable.” “…that’s what I love about a café, being able to walk into it and make it like a place I go every day.”
Liz Davis, CEO of Wallingford Center Inc. It’s exciting to see a young resident move to the city and invest in the local business community. The city has seen a host of new businesses started by the young residents recently, including Bel Lavi Medical and Glow Medical Aesthetics.
More companies, and more young people, are starting to follow it because of the pandemic. I’ve seen they start out of their homes, or how they’re going to start, and that’s what we want — we want people like this who have courage and inspiration and want to be part of the business community, she said.
Davis said the café in particular expands the diversity of businesses in the downtown area. While there are other restaurants that serve coffee, they focus more on their food and the coffee-focused establishment will provide new energy to customers.
Retrofitting the building, which was home to the John Kovacs Insurance Agency until the owner retired around the time the pandemic began, will bring life to a building that has been vacant for nearly two years. Gilbride said the current owners are dividing the space into a 1,000-square-foot storefront that will be home to Green Kettle and a neighboring insurance company.
According to local and state records, the building is owned by 208-210 Center St LLC, which is owned by Margaret Kramer and Glenn Air.
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