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Friday, November 16 Business

Barrister’s Coffee House opens in downtown Danbury

DANBURY — Barrister’s Coffee House wants to do more than serve good coffee; it wants to be a community meeting place and a venue where great conversations happen.

“We’re creating an environment that is accepting and welcoming,” Tracy Hoekenga, owner of Barrister’s, said. “People love the atmosphere here. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about that.”

The shop’s manager Jordan Jones wrote the Barrister’s mission statement this week and included the phrase: “creating unity through compassion.”

“Everyone who comes in feels welcomed,” he said.

Barrister’s opened last month at 1 West St., on the corner with Main Street and below the new Naugatuck Valley Community College campus in downtown Danbury. Hoekenga’s husband, Craig, works as an attorney across the street on Main Street and they eyed the location when they heard NVCC was moving there.

“There wasn’t anything like this in the area at the time,” Tracy Hoekenga said. “The idea was to make a place for students to come and relax; maybe get some work done between classes. It’s a place for locals, too, to come chat and enjoy some coffee.”

Building owner and landlord Joseph DaSilva Jr. has transformed the Pershing Building at 190 Main St. from a largely vacant building two years ago to a thriving area of downtown Danbury.

NVCC opened a 20,000-square-foot campus on the second and third floors there in the fall of 2016. Barrister’s occupies the first floor. Danbury Grassroots Academy will expand next door and a mobile communications company will open a retail outlet 192 Main St. soon, DaSilva said.

“I don’t think there could be a better fit than Barrister’s with the college right above,” DaSilva said. “It’s perfect there. It’s set up nicely and looks great from the street.”

Barrister’s joins a suddenly growing list of coffee shop-type restaurants opening in downtown Danbury. Mothership on Main opened in late 2016; Pour Me Coffee and Wine Bar opened last summer and K’s Café opened in the Danbury Library last month.

“We need that and more of these eateries and gathering places in downtown Danbury. I have a feeling we’re heading there,” DaSilva said. “There’s a new vibe going on right now and we’re thrilled.”

Barrister’s gets its coffee from Windsor-based Baronet Coffee Inc. Danbury-based Cross Culture kombucha is also sold there. Many of the baked goods come from a Bethel bakery.

“We want to support Connecticut companies,” Hoekenga said.

Barrister’s also serves Harney & Sons tea and a variety of other beverages such as lattes and cappuccino. A variety of breakfast sandwiches, bagels and pastries are sold there, as well. Jones said “The Waff,” a toasted waffle sandwich, is a big seller for breakfast.

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Hoekenga said the shop may start serving lunch items soon. She said they are also hoping to be open on Saturdays, as well. It is now open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We’ll listen to our customers and see what they want,” she said.

The décor includes several antiques — including several old bikes that hang on the walls — from Craig Hoekenga’s personal collection. There are also conversation starters, such as an old pay phone and animal figures from the Danbury Fair. A gold-colored legal scale and wooden gavel rest on the sill of a window that offers a view of Hoekenga & Machado law firm across the street.

Danbury-based seventy2architects helped with the interior design.

Barrister’s may be reached at 203-917-4965.

The writer may be reached at cbosak@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3338

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