A local provider of specialty coffee, pastries, organic breads, artisanal soups and sandwiches is on track to operate the new cafe in the rebuilt New Canaan Library.
Michelle and Erich Smith, owners of The Farmer’s Grind in South Salem, N.Y., say they’re excited to bring their established business to the downtown.
“It’s about bringing local back to the community,” Michelle Smith told NewCanaanite.com.
Referring to New Canaan Library Executive Director Lisa Oldham, she added, “When Lisa approached us and talked to us about the library and all the new innovations and plans for the future, the forward thinking, it was very simple and easy to just slip right in. We are looking forward to making it another home.”
The Farmer’s Grind launched its first location in 2020, just north of the New Canaan town line. Many town residents are customers, the Smiths said.
The new library is on track to open to the public one week from Tuesday, on Feb. 14. The Farmer’s Grind will launch soon after, on March 20, in the café area of the main concourse within the widely anticipated new facility.
Oldham said she’s pleased to have the small business operating the library’s new café.
“They are a great fit for us, sharing our values of community and sustainability,” Oldham said. “And of course, their excellent coffee and food.”
The Farmer’s Grind will offer up a limited menu from its wide range of hot drinks as well as breads, pastries, sandwiches and kids menu at South Salem, Erich Smith said.
“We want to be able to serve the community of New Canaan with our local fresh goods that we have, but in a way that makes sense,” he said. “We want to have some grab-and-go items, something for kids coming in after school for a little treat, though not a full meal.” The Farmer’s Grind café is expected to become “a local hangout,” Erich Smith said.
“We are excited about New Canaan restaurants and cafés—they do a great job,” he said. “We don’t take anything away from the town at all. The town has it figured out in a great way. What we are pumped about is not just the fresh-baked goods, which any café can do. What we are pumped about is that everything of ours is local. It all comes locally. The veggies on the sandwiches are from local farms, the baked goods are from local bakers. What I think New Canaan customers can feel comfortable about is that when they come to The Farmer’s Grind and make purchases from us, we also purchase from all local people, so it’s all helping each other out. It’s all a sense of community.”
More than one decade in the making, the new library hosted a preview party with donors Saturday night, with Oldham, Library CEO Capital Campaign Major Gifts & Endowment Ellen Crovatto, Board of Trustees President Bob Butman and Capital Campaign Co-Chair Alicia Wyckoff among those welcoming the crowd to the new building and thanking several parties, including representatives from Turner Construction and Centerbrook Architects, Capital Campaign Co-Chair Anda Hutchins and Library Assistant Director Cheryl Capitani. Unveiled publicly in early 2020, the new library has been taking shape since last summer, with a new main entrance along Maple Street between South Avenue and Main Street.
The Smiths already work full-time jobs, apart from The Farmer’s Grind—Michelle as a pediatric surgical physician’s assistant and Erich as a firefighter in New York City.
What got the couple committed to operating their coffee shop in New Canaan Library was Oldham, they said.
“She fully believes and because she believes, we believe that this is going to be the heart of New Canaan,” he said. “This library space is going to be the soul and gathering place of the community. The epicenter. What we really enjoy about the town is that you have little mom-and-pops, as well as chains. And looking at the landscape, we felt like we weren’t hindering anybody else’s production or retail store, that we are making more of a contribution to the community. That is what we want to be, a contribution to an already amazing town.”