“Downtown Table” Yields To Coffee Shop
Katherine McComic served up her last cup of coffee in Russo Park — and helped pave the way for a new brick-and-mortar shop that’s taking root in Wooster Square.
That was the story Thursday night on Chapel Street, where McComic has set up a caffeine-laden pop-up since June. Called "Downtown Table," the pop-up features a cart and bicycle with Coffee Peddler coffee, waffle-like sandwich cookies, and McComic’s own patio furniture. The cart and bicycle are sponsored by Project Storefronts, which is leasing out the equipment.
Originally, McComic dreamed up Downtown Table as a “quick-fix” response to Fuel’s closure in May, and the subsequent absence of a coffee shop in Wooster Square. McComic, who lives on Hughes Place, said she began to wonder if a temporary stand-in could fill that gap.
“I knew the former Fuel, but when they moved to Wooster Street, it just didn’t have the same atmosphere as a real coffee shop,” she recalled in a recent interview on WNHH Radio’s Kitchen Sync. “It was very small, there was no seating.”
“I think more than anything — more than just the caffeine rush, or the need to sell coffee and pastries — what I really want to see in Wooster Square is a place for community gathering,” she added.
From late June through mid-August, McComic set up the cart every morning, assembling waffle-and-speculoos sandwich cookies and picking up coffee from Coffee Peddler Owner Ryan Taylor.
Business was good; she found herself turning out a small but sure profit after fees to Taylor and the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees had been tabulated. Her connections multiplied, from neighbors and new friends in Wooster Square to fellow popper-upper Netta Hadari, who also uses Taylor’s coffee in his ice cream.
But there was a catch: McComic knew she was starting law school in late August, heading to Quinnipiac by the third week of the month. The whole point of Downtown Table had been to prove that there was a need for coffee in Wooster Square. She began to worry that no one would take up the charge after she had left. Even as she prepared for a final soiree with What Is Real Ice Cream, she didn’t know what would become of coffee in Wooster Square.
And then, the business fates intervened. A couple — who asked not to be identified or photographed in this article — reached out to her with the news that they were bringing back a brick-and-mortar coffee shop in a revitalized space on Chapel Street. While they asked not to disclose the 1100 square foot location this early in the renovation process, they said they expect it to be open by the end of September.
That’s very good news to McComic, who spent Thursday night mingling with customers and posing with the coffee cart for final pictures before she returns it to Project Storefronts. Over three hours, a neighborhood crowd came out for the event, sitting at her patio furniture and sipping cold brew and lemonade one last time.
“Everything has turned out even better than I thought it would,” she said, pausing to serve up a cup of pink lemonade. “Pop-ups generate pop-ups … it’s procreative. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d be wishing I were.”
McComic added that her profits of $47.25 will go toward supporting the new shop, like curtains or a newly installed bar.