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New life at old mill

Coffee shop opens in downtown Garrettsville

By MATTHEW MERCHANT Staff Writer Published: November 28, 2016 4:00 AM
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A part of downtown Garrettsville came back to life on Saturday with the grand opening of the village's newest business, Cellar Door Coffee Co.

People gathered inside the old mill at the corner of Water and Main streets to sip espresso while munching on chocolate chip cookies.

Behind the burnished copper countertop was owner Whitney Podboy, turning out fresh coffee to a steady stream of guests. Her family is from the Garrettsville area, so opening a business was like coming home, she said.

Christmas music played quietly in the background as people crowded into the space, taking in all of the details before heading to the counter. Framed black-and-white photographs of downtown Garrettsville hang from the mocha brown walls next to prints of "Morning without coffee is like sleep" and other sayings.

Exposed wooden support beams show the original 1850s structure of the mill. Along with the Buckeye Block across the street, the building sat abandoned and unused until owner Mike Maschek invested in the place.

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Whitney and her husband, Derek, met in high school in Burton and have been married for 15 years this December. Like Garrettsville, Burton was a quiet, small town, something both were looking for when considering locations for their dream project.

"We knew we wanted to do something in Garrettsville," Derek said. The couple had looked at other buildings in town, including the remaining structure on the Buckeye Block. "We were just waiting on timing and finding the right place. (Whitney) has wanted her own place for as long as I've known her."

An engineer at NASA's Glenn Research Center combustion lab, Derek handed out free coffee coupons to guests, chatting with the grandchildren of the mill's original owners and locals just happy to see the building put to use.

The opening was timed with Small Business Saturday, known for promoting local businesses over big-box stores.

Cellar Door's name derives from Neil Young's "Live at the Cellar Door" album. Inside the coffee shop, framed vinyl records hang from the walls above burnt poplar wood tables, handmade by Derek, and couples sat downstairs under strings of lights hanging from the ceiling.

In the spring, Derek said they are planning to open the outside patio and build stairs down to the creek. They're hoping to rent out the basement level for events.

"We've already got one event scheduled, but we want to be available to work with local businesses and be available for events like that," Derek said.

In the future, Cellar Door will sell pastries from a local baker, breakfast and lunch-style sandwiches, chocolates from White House Chocolates and other small items.

"We're really excited about the turnout. It's really a leap of faith like, 'We're opening this so hopefully people will show up,'" Derek said, looking over the bar as Whitney handed off yet another latte. "They showed up, and we're happy to have them."


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