Courtesy of Jacqueline Potter
The manager of Uncommon Grounds
on Church Street will open her own coffee shop, bakery and roastery, Uncommon Coffee, next spring at the Essex Experience.
Maya Crowley told Seven Days
she considered buying Uncommon Grounds, which will close by the end of the year
after 25 years in business. But when Crowley calculated the finances, including what she said would be a sharp increase in rent, she concluded the business wouldn’t be viable.
“We had assumed that I could take over Uncommon Grounds, but due to a number of circumstances outside our control” it didn’t work, Crowley said.
Instead, Crowley plans to open Uncommon Coffee in a 5,000-square-foot space at 21 Essex Way, site of the former Under Armour. Her business partner in the venture is Peter Edelmann, owner of the Essex Experience
and managing partner of The Essex
“I’m so psyched,” said Crowley, a graduate of Essex High School. “This has been my dream since I was 19 years old and I first started working in a kitchen. That experience in the restaurant world, on top of my experience in the coffee world, led me to this place."
Rob Maynard, a coffee roaster from Uncommon Grounds, will work with her in Essex, Crowley said. Rather than move the coffee roaster at Uncommon Grounds, she is purchasing a larger one to handle a business plan that calls for more wholesale coffee orders, Crowley said.
Uncommon Coffee, open daily, will have an in-house bakery that will make bread and assorted baked goods. Crowley plans to serve a variety of breakfast toasts on the bread.
Crowley said she expects to have early hours at the cafe to serve people who commute to Burlington and might’ve gone to Uncommon Grounds when they got there.
“They can start their drive with coffee and pastry from Uncommon Coffee,” she said.
In addition to a rise in rent on Church Street, Crowley cited other reasons for choosing not to take over Uncommon Grounds. These include: an increase in the minimum wage, effective next year, and not being able to keep the name, Uncommon Grounds. (The owner of Uncommon Grounds, Brenda Nadeau, doesn't own the rights to the name.)
“What I foresaw happening was us being priced out of the market” on Church Street, Crowley said. “Brenda and I had a good cry when we realized it wasn’t going to happen."
Uncommon Coffee will be adjacent to and integrated with ArtHound Gallery
, which opened this month at the Essex Experience, Edelmann said. Photographer John Churchman and his wife, Jennifer Churchman, own the 7,100-square-foot art gallery. The couple are authors of children's books, including the 2015 best-seller, Sweet Pea & Friends: The SheepOver
. The café and gallery will be accessible to each other from within each space, according to John Churchman.
The rent at 42 Church Street, location of Uncommon Grounds, will go up, confirmed Tony Blake of VT Commercial, who declined to specify the amount.