Owners hope it remains a coffee shop
By Scott Bellile
When Familiar Grounds Coffee Shop announced in June it’s up for sale, co-owner Beth Hutchison had to take to social media to ease her loyal customers’ fears.
Some followers overlooked the part of the announcement that stated, “Familiar Grounds will not be closing.” People commented on Facebook offering their memories and best wishes.
“Whatttt..? Now where am i going to get my cookies and creme freeze?!” one wrote. Another commented, “You are breaking my heart!”
Beth Hutchison set things straight for those who were confused. Besides that, the staff now has an idea of how valued they are by community members.
Beth Hutchison told the Press Star she and her husband Jeremy Hutchison are simply planning early for an eventual exit from the business. They’re not leaving yet.
“We just have one daughter, and she’s not interested in the business, so eventually we’ll have to sell it,” she explained. “So we just thought we’d see if there’s interest because it could take a long time. We’ve worked with a business consultant and he said it could take years.
“We hope for the business to continue. We just don’t have family to pass it on to,” she said.
Beth Hutchison said she’s received a couple inquiries since the business went up for sale this spring but no serious offers.
Back in the winter, the business eliminated evening hours. Beth Hutchison said students don’t come after school as they did five years ago.
With the hours adjusted, she said things are better. An expanded breakfast and lunch menu has helped, and she said the next owner could really capitalize on that.
“Business is going good,” Beth Hutchison said. “It’s staying steady. We’re thankful for that a lot of regular customers a lot of new faces.”
The store started in 1997 in a 1,500-square-foot space on East South Water Street. Its size quintupled several years later when it moved into the former Coyles Tire and Auto shop and garage at 206 N. Pearl St. The late Mike Coyle was Beth Hutchison’s father.
The fact Familiar Grounds occupies an old auto garage is hard to notice, as the Hutchisons have performed plenty of renovations. Beth Hutchison said at this point she won’t continue making upgrades to the building, but she doesn’t plan to downsize, either.
“It’d be a great business for somebody wanting to step into entrepreneurship,” Beth Hutchison said. “There’s just so much potential … The business, it’s really set up for someone who could just come in and take over, do whatever they want.”
That includes an already-existing customer base and staff to work with Beth Hutchison said. She and her customers are hopeful it will remain a coffee shop, but she said it’s ultimately the buyer’s choice.
“I’m just hopeful someone will come in with some good energy,” she said. “The potential’s here. New London’s a great community [that’s] growing.”