‘A Pit Stop’: Organizers Rule Out ‘Caffeine & Carburetors’ in 2017

Caffeine & Carburetors, the popular gathering of auto enthusiasts in downtown New Canaan and, more recently, at Waveny Park, will not be held in 2017, according to the New Canaan resident who launched the events six years ago.

Scenes from Caffeine & Carburetors in downtown New Canaan on Sept. 11, 2016. Credit: Michael Dinan

Doug Zumbach, owner of the eponymous gourmet coffee shop on Pine Street where informal gatherings of fellow specialty and classic car enthusiasts in 2010 swiftly outgrew the area immediately around his business, said he and fellow founders Peter Bush and Todd Brown are “putting Caffeine & Carburetors in a pit stop” for now.

“After 24 or 25 shows over the past six years, it’s time to just revaluate the operation of it all,” Zumbach told NewCanaanite.com.

Scenes from the Oct. 16, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors. Credit: Michael Dinan

“It takes a tremendous amount of effort, time, town resources, et cetera, to put successful shows together. I have other personal and professional projects I would like to approach this year. One is going back to school. Another is doing some things with the store. Running the show—the time required to do each show does not allow me to do that, therefore I’d like to pursue these projects. That’s not to say we might have a pop-up event somewhere, somehow during the year but right now there are no scheduled events.”

The decision comes after the largest-ever Caffeine & Carburetors, which drew an estimated 1,300-plus people to Waveny in October, and calls from parks officials to track and control more closely its size. Operated smoothly and safely by trained volunteers, Caffeine & Carburetors has been held four times per year since 2014.

Russell Dinan at the May 22, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny. Credit: Michael Dinan

Launched with just 50 cars in 2010, Caffeine & Carburetors rapidly became such a big draw to Pine Street that, in April 2014, it expanded to encompass the one-way stretch of Elm Street—an evolution that seemed to benefit eateries in the business district. It became a practical challenge to hold the event there six times per year, and town officials agreed to try it out at Waveny on a trial basis six months later.

Scenes from the April 17, 2016 Caffeine & Carburetors in downtown New Canaan. Credit: Michael Dinan

Since then Zumbach has searched for ways to leverage the popularity of Caffeine & Carburetors to benefit the wider community, such as through taking in donated items to the New Canaan Food Pantry from show-goers, donating himself to the Waveny Park Conservancy or partnering with nonprofit organizations. (He also provides liability insurance and $1,000 cleanup bond, pays for police and secures permits to sell coffee during the events.)

Zumbach said he was especially proud of the September show in downtown New Canaan—it coincided with the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attachs—“with the Fire Department participating with the flags and the engines, that was just glorious.”

Scenes from the Oct. 18, 2015 Caffeine & Carburetors gathering at Waveny Park. Credit: Michael Dinan

“I’m so proud of the last one in Waveny, how organized it was. I thought that was a perfect show. It went off so well. I’m very, very proud of my volunteers, and Peter and Todd.”

Zumbach thanked those volunteers as well as local businesses that stepped in to sponsor the event as it grew, including Bankwell, Rand Insurance and Monticello Motor Club.

“I’d like to thank everyone in the town, the town resources, the residents, participants, everyone involved that has contributed to making Caffeine & Carburetors what it is, just such a successful event,” he said.

Caffeine & Carburetors in downtown New Canaan—April 19, 2015. Credit: Michael Dinan

Not everyone cheered the rising popularity of Caffeine & Carburetors, as some neighbors and regulars in downtown New Canaan and Waveny voiced concerns about traffic and noise, as well as the park’s use. The gathering also has drawn divided support from some town bodies. For example, the Park & Recreation Commission has never unanimously approved Caffeine & Carburetors at Waveny, and locals will recall that the widely discussed 4-3 vote to approve the park debut back in 2014 led to New Canaan’s development of a town-wide policy on members of municipal boards and commissions participating in votes via telephone.

Caffeine & Carburetors—Waveny, Oct. 19, 2014. Credit: Michael Dinan

Parks officials by a 5-3 margin approved two events downtown and two at the park for 2015 and approved the same for 2016 with just one dissenting vote. During a postmortem on this year’s gatherings before the town’s legislative body in November, officials called Caffeine & Carburetors “a great event” and attraction to New Canaan while also calling for some regulation.

Zumbach said he looked forward to re-focusing some of his energies for now and left open the possibility of a return.

“I’m not going to say goodbye,” he said. “Just ‘See you down the road.’ ”

14 thoughts on “‘A Pit Stop’: Organizers Rule Out ‘Caffeine & Carburetors’ in 2017

  1. This has been an amazing organizational feat and a huge reason to love living in town. So sad to hear that it is no longer on the schedule in 2017. Kudos to Doug, Peter and Todd. Selfishly, I hope the public will help me convince you to reconsider! Grateful to all of you and your volunteer team for making New Canaan a destination for car enthusiasts of all ages.

  2. I’m not even a car enthusiast but always very much looked forward to the buzz and the vibe the event brought to our town. It’d be great if a way could be found to have this popular event continue in the same Spirit – – maybe with some size/frequency restriction to appease the controllers and nimby’ers. It certainly is a top show-case for our town and very much thank Zumbach’s ‘drive’ to bring such a great event to us.

  3. Our whole family so appreciates the time, effort and cost to produce Caffeine & Carburetors” events in our beautiful town. We look forward to the time that “C&C” is back on the starting line. Thank you to Doug, Peter and Todd – Happy New Year!

  4. I have been lucky enough to attend this gather for the past four years, and am quite disappointed by this; simply because it became one of the events I look most forward too. But of course its understandable, its quite a burden due the increased popularity and you have to respect Doug’s personal aspirations outside this. If anyone decides to perhaps take this over, might I suggest charging a few bucks per car and donating it to the fire department or the volunteers, etc. Most gearheads wouldn’t mind. Thanks for all the good times so far!

  5. Probably the coolest car show in the area, with rare and unusual cars. Such a shame that it is on hiatus. I won’t talk about the whiners who don’t get it.

  6. I was very proud to be “called out” as I passed the podium with my LS1 powered MIATA. Doug, Peter, and Todd allowed me to show the car in its rough and finished stages and promoted the fact that we used it to participate in the 2012 “Fireballrun Adventurally:The Race to Recover America’s Missing Children” .
    I hope to have another car to show in time for this years Fireballrun and should the be another C&C, I will attend.
    A huge thank you to these agents and all the people that made these events possible.

  7. I am not shedding a tear, I’m downright balling! I attended virtually every event over the past several years and they have all been fantastic. Would have been great to contain the size somewhat, but good news has traveled fast and the event is widely revered. It was a very clear sign that MANY enthusiasts were dying for an outlet to share their passions. Truly disappointing, but I understand the major endeavor the event has become. Hope to see the event come back in some form and hopefully others can step in to provide support in hosting.

  8. Probably the most fun car event of the year. I made it whenever I could. The organizers have my thanks for running such a wonderful and friendly gathering of cars, gearheads and their significant others (two and four legged welcomed!!). The last one at Waveny was such a beauty in every way. The two “identical” blue Bugattis Type 35s next to one another, one an original the other a hand built replica was a amazing. Look very forward to seeing you down the road.

  9. Fun show but better at Waveny. Too big for downtown and an obstacle for those not attending. For instance, it was always a problem for church goers at St.A’s who couldnt find parking when going to Mass b/c of the illegal parking done by C&C attendees.

  10. I’m also disappointed that this event will take a year off. I was honored to be a volunteer from the start. I as well as many other volunteers would rise early on those mornings and assist on what have been considered the most expensive streets in the world for a few hours on a Sunday. It has created a buzz among many auto enthusiasts throughout the world. There were even automotive manufacturers that would showcase new models prior to being released to the public. The time and effort that went into this smooth operation are more then anyone could imagine. I also sit on the Parks and Recreation Commission and was pro Caffeine and Carburetors for what it brought to the NC community. It gave us the opportunity to showcase what New Canaan had to offer. We had restaurants that benefited, we had realtors that used it as a sales tool and even Starbucks had some of there most profitable days during Caffeine and Carburetors. I guess the best way to sum it up is that it was a amusement park for families of all ages. Thank you Doug, Peter and Todd for creating this venue, thank you for the opportunity to let myself be a part of this venue. This might be a chapter closing, however the book is not finished as of yet.

  11. I can not hide the fact that this is terrible news. I love these events and get up at 5am to get there by 7:30. I attend 30 events a year and these are the very best!

    I am very disappointed.

  12. This is “sad news” to say the least. Besides seeing and meeting other car enthusiasts, this was also an educational event for kids of all ages. There were cars from the early 1900s to “super” cars of the 21st century, which one would never have seen except for the C & C
    Hope the town can work on the logistics and keep this going.
    Peter Bush is a “national treasure” the lost art in talking to and with people…not shouting at people

  13. Very sad. As a huge car guy, this is the BEST shows I have been too! I will miss this more then you guys know.

    BRING BACK C&C in 2018!!!!

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