As this report is being written, the newly-named Cafe Barista planned to hold a soft opening in the week of March 21. The Observer reported last April (page 10) that this welcome enhancement in Suffield Center would offer sandwiches and salads seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Its name now implies that a variety of coffee-based refreshments will be offered as well. During a short, pre-opening tour, building owner/proprietor Ajay Malhotra said eighteen different flavors of gelato will be offered. We await with interest. This operation is very much a local effort, as the Malhotra family lives in town, Mrs. Malhotra – Shalu – is the manager, and several of the newly-hired staff are Suffieldians.
The general décor seems top-notch. The furnishings are well chosen, and the shop’s decorations include the work of many known artists plus an immense drone photo-print of Suffield center. One notable piece is the immense tall clock that once stood in the Webster Bank lobby. The 1901 clock carries a plaque for Wm H. Fuller, who was one of the numerous William Fullers who lived in sequence in the ca. 1760 house at Fuller’s Corner (the corner of North Main Street, Mapleton Avenue, and North Street). He was also the grandfather of Sam Fuller, who founded this newspaper. Feather & Bloom helped with the décor.
It’s been a year since the necessary remodeling work was halted last spring for lack of approved plans for the required emergency egress. Construction work resumed last fall to make the necessary changes and complete the interior work for the coffee shop.
The new shop’s main entrance faces north onto Village Lane. A new front exit was cut into the building, its door facing west close to the bank’s North Main Street entrance. This door provides the emergency exit for the café and for new tenant spaces in the lower level via a revised interior stairway.
One of the lower level businesses is the Cara Mia Med Spa, a new facial salon that opened in October (October Observer, page 26) and has continued in business, but with limited patronage for lack of adequate signage. Proposed permanent signs in the town center require approvals from the Suffield Historic District Commission and the Design Review Board of the Town Center Commercial District. Approvals now have been given, and the new signs will soon be installed. Joel Flechna, proprietor of Cara Mia, remarked optimistically that it has been like a race with a three-legged horse, but the fourth leg is now available.
The other business newly installed on the lower level was Clear Cut Solutions, an established Suffield hair salon that had moved from 41 Mountain Road to the bank building but was soon shut down because of its lack of emergency egress and other problems. To satisfy at least a few patrons, proprietor Chessa Babiarz installed a chair temporarily in the Mobile Beauty studio in the ground level of the small apartment house at 35-41 High Street. That was later replaced by one chair in the Salon at the Village, below the Suffield Village liquor store. The lack of egress for the impressive new salon installed by Clear Cut in the bank building has now been solved by the revised stairway and the new exit door near Cafe Barista, but the Observer has not learned Clear Cut’s plans. Stay tuned.