The Mountain Times

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A downtown Rutland coffee shop is reborn as the Speakeasy Cafe, hope abounds

There's a particular aura to the right coffee shop.

It feels "lived in," like a favorite room in an old house, and has comfy chairs. Some homemade sweets, a shelf full of old books and a board game or two for a lazy afternoon add to the appeal. Of course, the coffee is good, too.

The Café Terra at 67 Center Street in Rutland used to fit this bill well. When it closed back in April, many a coffee connoisseurs and early morning newspaper readers were disappointed.

Thankfully, Bridget Scott caught the coffee bug a few years ago. Now the spot with the creaky, wooden floors, Trivial Pursuit cards, dog-eared paperbacks and great java has new life as the Speakeasy Café.

Scott understands the particular aura of the coffee shop. After receiving an English literature degree from Clemson University in South Carolina, she went on to teach English in Prague, Czech Republic.

"I was trying to find myself and I wrote a terrible novel there," she says with a grin. Scott then moved to Vermont, where she worked at the Spring Lake Ranch for over eight years, first as a residential advisor and, eventually, as human resource director. Needing a change, she then got a job as a barista at Clem's (now the Coffee Exchange) on the corner of Center Street and Merchants row.

It was there that coffee got a hold of her.

"A lot of people don't think much about lattes when they order them," says Scott. "But when you're making a latte, it's an art form."
Scott's literature background is apparent when she says, "There are a lot of adjectives to place on a latte!" Maybe only half-jokingly.

While working at Clem's, Scott started having visions of opening her own place. She found that she loved working behind the counter and seeing many of the same people every day. This desire grew after Clem's closed and Scott found herself working for a year at Café Terra.

Scott says that the Speakeasy Café, which had its grand opening on August 28, retains much of the formula that worked with its predecessor, but with some changes reflecting her own vision.

"The Café Terra did a lot of things well and was always a friendly place," she notes. "That means a lot to me and I want this to be a place where people feel they can sit for as long as they want to-to read, do work, and to feel at home."

The Speakeasy Café has kept the same coffee brand and bagels that were served by Café Terra. It will also offer soups, cookies, muffins and scones, as well as the breakfast sandwiches (served all day) - items that were popular previously. Scott notes that she will now be doing some of her own baking and her biscuit specialty will be included with the two soups of the day that the café will offer.

Scott painted the café interior and added counter space towards the back, but retained most of the cabinets, refrigerator, latte machine, furniture and other items from Café Terra. She also bought an iPad point of sale for a cash register.

 

6- Scott _interior 4_reduced

 

"At one point after they had closed, absolutely everything had been taken out of here," she says. "I brought all of it back and rearranged a little."

Scott notes that the business's physical space offers much of the character that defines a coffee shop. "There are fun little details in the room, including the cabinets and the uneven, wooden floor," she points out. "It makes for a welcoming space."

The Speakeasy Café's is open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Scott hopes, eventually, to extend the Sunday hours and stay open later on Thursdays for special events.

"I'm always looking for a place, myself, to spend on a Sunday where I can just hang out and do a crossword puzzle," she says.
Thursdays will include rotating events: music, a movie night and a games night. Scott also hopes to, gradually, acquire appropriate art work for the café walls and is open to rotating art exhibits.

As for the business's name and logo, Scott notes that her original name had been "Velocipedes." (A velocipede is any human-powered vehicle with one or more wheels, hence, the picture of the old-fashioned bicycle now on the Speakeasy Café's logo.)
"I didn't think that anyone would know what that meant," she said of the rejected name.

"I think there's a niche for a place like this in this area," she says in summary. "The Rutland area has grown on me since I moved here. It is a community on the rise and I want to be a part of that."