By Stephanie Choate
With the arrival of spring, Williston residents will have a new place to get a caffeine boost—and fill up on fresh breakfast and lunch options.
“I think the community wants a local coffee shop,” said Williston resident Eric Kelley. “I think there is a serious need for coffee in this town.”
Kelley is set to open Williston Coffee Shop in the Taft Farm Village Center plaza, in the space formerly occupied by Passport Video.
The stacks of DVDs and video games have been replaced with bold chartreuse walls, gleaming espresso machines and cases that will soon be filled with house-made pastries.
Kelley plans to offer a one-stop fast casual option for the whole family. Williston Coffee Shop will feature coffee from Uncommon Grounds, espresso drinks, iced coffee, breakfast sandwiches and house-made pastries, freshly made lunch sandwiches and more.
“People can stop in, get a cup of coffee in the morning, say hi to a nice, friendly staff,” Kelley said. “It’s a community-oriented place where people can come in and know they’re going to get friendly service and fresh food.”
He plans to feature fresh, healthy food at reasonable prices, including gluten-free and vegan options.
“I’m extremely passionate about not only the restaurant business but breakfast itself,” he said. “I believe in a quality, healthy breakfast. So many people skip breakfast at home… then they settle for unhealthy options.”
Kelley hopes to open Williston Coffee Shop by May 1. In the meantime, he is finalizing permits and installing kitchen equipment and an eating area that will seat 15-18, plus six to eight seats outside in the summer.
Kelley said he’s been in the restaurant scene since he finished college, though he grew up working in his family’s construction business.
“I just didn’t want to be working outside in the middle of December and January,” he said. “I was always the guy who was ready to go get coffee.”
After college, he opened two restaurants while living in Colorado. He and his then-partner decided to move to Vermont to raise their children, since she had family in Montpelier.
In 2009, they settled on Williston.
“I wouldn’t have chosen any other town if I could go back and do it again,” he said.
Locally, he has management experience with Bruegger’s Bagels, Moe’s Southwest Grille and The Bagel Place, but had always planned to eventually open his own place. When the opportunity came up, he took it.
“I had the opportunity to open my own store,” he said. “I live in Williston, my kids are going to be going to school here…. I knew I really wanted to be in Williston.”
Kelley will even be able to walk to work every day at the new Williston Coffee Shop.
“I love Williston,” he said. “This is a great place to raise kids. It’s very community-oriented. Giving back to the community is something I firmly believe in.”
Kelley, a member of the town’s Recreation Committee, said he hopes to work with other local businesses, and be part of the community.
“Finding any way I can that’s rational to support the community is important to me,” he said. “I love that Vermont is so local-business friendly. I want to support other people that pay taxes in the town and in the state, and hopefully they’ll support my business as well.”
Williston Coffee Shop is located at 400 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 230.