After 25 Years, Burlington's Uncommon Grounds to Close | Bite Club

After 25 Years, Burlington's Uncommon Grounds to Close


Uncommon Grounds in Burlington - FILE PHOTO
  • File photo
  • Uncommon Grounds in Burlington
Update, Oct. 23, 2019, 9:30 a.m. This post was updated with information about the closing date.

Uncommon Grounds
, a coffee shop that opened on Church Street in May 1994, will close by the end of the year, owner Brenda Nadeau told Seven Days.

Nadeau, 56, said she plans to retire and shut the business that was founded by her parents, Skip and Beverly Blakely. Over its 25 years on the Marketplace, during which numerous cafés have opened in Burlington, Uncommon Grounds established itself as a downtown hangout. Along with Speeder & Earl's and Muddy Waters, Uncommon Grounds is among the oldest coffee shops in Burlington.

“I always assumed that when I left, it would continue without me,” Nadeau said. “It doesn’t need me. It’s a good model, it works. I’ve just been the steward of it for a period of time.”

Nadeau purchased the café from her parents 11 years ago, after a career as a high school band director and a decade spent raising her three children. None of her grown children are interested in taking over the business, Nadeau said, and she's ready to retire. 

Uncommon Grounds, which roasts its own beans, is equipped with a coffee roaster by its storefront window, indoor seating for about 40 people, and outdoor tables that fill up in warm weather. The coffee shop boasts a simple design: a set of tables on the north side and a service counter for coffee, espresso drinks and tea along the opposite wall. It's not uncommon, at Uncommon Grounds, for the beverage line to reach the door. 

Uncommon Grounds pours its to-go orders into green paper cups adorned with a steaming cup of coffee. It serves pastries and baked goods from a number of local bakeries, including Red House Sweets in St. Albans, and Barrio Bakery and Jones the Boy in Burlington.

Church Street has been a great location for her café, Nadeau said, but she added that “the hole in the ground and Macy’s leaving has definitely been challenging.” In particular,  she said, the demolition of the downtown mall has affected foot traffic.

The coffee shop employs 14 people, said Nadeau, noting that it was important to her to give her staff several months notice of the closing. “It gives them a chance to have options, as opposed to being forced to take the first thing,” she said.

In her retirement, Nadeau plans to spend time with her husband, read good books and take walks in the woods. "I plan to not do anything with computers," she said. "That's my No. 1 goal in life."

Though Nadeau owns the Burlington shop, she does not own its name. The moniker Uncommon Grounds is owned by her sister and brother-in-law, Marsha and Dan Murphy, who own three cafés by that name in upstate New York, Nadeau said.

In coincidental timing, a new café is coming to the Church Street Marketplace in early 2020. Renovation is underway at 2 Church Street, where Kru Coffee will open early next year, said co-owner Kyle Brock.  He'll own the business with his wife, Kristi Brock, and brother-in-law Ryan Miller.

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