Concord’s newest coffee shop has been in the works for more than a year after property owner Linear Retail Properties signed a 10-year lease with the European coffee chain.
Director of Caffè Nero USA Jay Gentil said that seeing the store filled with customers it looked like “exactly what they wanted it to be.”
“It’s a neighborhood coffeehouse that serves really good coffee and really good food and allows the neighbors to come sit and socialize” Gentil said.
Gentil said that the morning had started slowly, but once the word got out that the shop was open it had been filled with a steady stream of customers.
Barbara White of Wayland said she wandered in for a French lesson with her tutor not knowing it was the opening day.
“I was just shopping for gifts and I walked past it and I didn’t have any idea it was the first day. This is the most delicious hot chocolate: skim milk, whipped cream and some kind of fancy chocolate on top,” White said. “I have a new place for my French lessons now.”
Gentil said that one of the draws for him was the historic nature of the building.
“This had great bones.” Gentil said. “All we did was peel down what was there and expose all the brick and we brought in all new wood floors that we reclaimed out of North Carolina.”
Gentil said the company went to great lengths to keep the original chimney and windows and restore the original wainscoting in the back room.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Ellen Mushlitz, who works a few doors down at Fritz & Gigi. “It’s just gorgeous.”
Mushlitz said that she was familiar with the chain from traveling in Europe and was excited to have one so close to where she works.
“I think it’s going to do really well. I’m glad the town got over its … whatever,” Concord resident Dari Dee said, referring to pushback from neighboring businesses concerned that a introducing a chain would hurt the character of the center.
Dee said she felt the coffee shop did a good job creating a space that felt “cozy” and fit the look and feel of Concord Center.
Caffe Nero is still looking for staff, according to Gentil, who said he brought in employees from other stores to get the shop launched.
“We’ve got a small handful of new kids that we’ve hired locally,” Gentil said. “So we’re still looking for more people, but it’s a very tough market to hire.”
Gentil said he was pleased with the soft opening and the coffeehouse planned to hold a ribbon-cutting Nov. 30 with members of the Concord Select Board for its grand opening .