The southern tip of Granby Street in Downtown Norfolk is getting another infusion of high quality local business and experience.
Cafe Stella, one of the more celebrated and popular coffee shops in Hampton Roads, will be taking over 116 Granby St., on the same block as The Main.
“We weren’t looking,” said Stella Pomienek, co-owner of Cafe Stella along with her husband. “We walked in and it reminded us of cafes in Europe and San Francisco. It had an old world feel. It’s what the essence of a coffee house has been for many years.”
At under 1,200 square feet — for context, the Stella’s on Colonial is close to 2,700 square feet — this will be a different coffee shop experience than what Cafe Stella devotees are used to. The location used to host a cigar shop; the space has a classic, old school wood-brick-and-glass appeal that is reminiscent of a city like Boston.
“It’ll be more about coffee than anything else,” said co-owner Mariusz Pomianek. “More modern coffee. We’re going to do more siphons, the modern pour-overs, Chemex brewing techniques, clever dripper.”
Mariusz is particularly excited about the Nuova Simonelli Black Eagle espresso machine that ‘showers’ the coffee, making sure that every grind, every particle of bean, is pre-soaked during the brewing process. There will be flavor in every molecule, with nothing unbrewed.
“We just think pre-soaked coffee tastes better,” said Mariusz.
The hope is to be open sometime around July or August. They’re still nailing down details, including the name. Right now Stella Lab, or simply Stella’s, are the favorites.
“Downtown has finally become the destination area, not just somewhere you go to pay your bills,” said Mariusz. “There’s a lot happening there. Downtown is looking nicer and nicer. The city is doing a lot to revitalize the area.”
There will be a limited kitchen at the Stella’s downtown, with some baked goods available in the mornings. In the evenings there will be wine and some desserts.
As a small business owner there is a certain validation that comes with opening a second location. The original Cafe Stella will turn six this July.
“The first day we opened we had 20 people walk through the door,” said Stella. “It was frightening. Here we are, six years later, with our second place. So everything worked out okay. It’s hard to put your heart and soul on display every day, for people to say what they’re going to say…. but we’re going to risk it and do it again.”
This new Stella’s will essentially be across the street from a Starbucks — the same multi-national who last year announced their plans for a location in Ghent across from Cafe Stella.
“They open one, we open one,” Mariusz joked. “A bean for a bean.”
Keep an eye on the Cafe Stella Facebook page for details.