Andrea Grove stood amidst piles of boards, debris and other signs of an active construction site.
She also stood among friends.
Last night, Grove invited a small group to an in-progress storefront on North Street in Harrisburg to announce the first standalone location for Elementary Coffee Co., her 4-plus-year-old, Harrisburg-based roaster.
As candles flickered, a cork was popped and champagne poured. There was no electricity or heat in the icy room, but that didn’t mar the celebration.
“I can’t believe it took us this long,” Grove said, as a circle of supporters raised their glasses. “But I’m glad it did because now we’re all here.”
This spring, Grove will open a 1,040-square-foot roaster and retail location at the corner of North and Susquehanna streets. She had just signed a lease to move into the ground floor of a building whose last occupant departed nearly three decades ago.
Since the early ‘90s, when a French restaurant called The Coventry closed, the twin buildings at 254 and 256 North St. had done nothing but deteriorate. Boarded up, with their roofs collapsing and bricks popping out, they were marked for demolition—a fate that seemed all but certain.
Then, last spring, attorney Matt Krupp, who lives across the street, bought them from the Harrisburg Redevelopment Authority.
At first, Krupp wasn’t exactly sure what the buildings would become. But he and his business partner eventually settled on a plan for two apartments upstairs and retail space on the first floor. Since then, a total renovation—more like a reconstruction—has been bringing back the small, mid-19th century brick-and-clapboard structures that had been given up for dead.
For her part, Grove had been seeking a location separate from her stand at the Broad Street Market where, on most Saturdays, a long, friendly, if chaotic, line forms to grab cups of her single-origin coffees and specialty drinks. She plans to retain the market stand, but will move her roaster from the market to the new space.
One thing she loves about her future shop, she said, is the location, as it sits at the seam of downtown and Midtown, just steps from the Capitol Complex.
“This area really is a merger of downtown and neighborhood,” she said. “It’s not either or—it’s both.”
Last night, amid the dim candlelight, Grove gestured to this and that—where the tables will be, where the roaster will sit. She pointed to an area that can be cleared out easily for musicians and even dancing, especially on weekends and during 3rd in the Burg nights.
In good weather, there also will be outdoor seating, she said, both on the wide sidewalk out front and on the rooftop deck.
Grove said that she isn’t planning any major changes compared to her market stand—just more. More coffee availability, more simple food options, such as bagels and baked goods, and, of course, far more seating.
She’s also happy that she’ll be able to extend employment to her staff, who now work for her just three days a week due to the limited market hours.
Décor-wise, Grove described her future interior as “industrial contemporary”—faux leather, wood, raw materials. The interior is being framed out, so, with a little imagination, one can even imagine the tables, the counter, the people.
“We want to make this a space where everyone will be comfortable,” she said. “We want everyone to feel welcome.”
For more information about Elementary Coffee Co., visit www.elementarycoffee.co.