Hampton Coffee Company’s fourth store was packed to the gills opening morning in Aquebogue, in the former Esso gas station that had most recently been Go Solar’s North Fork shop.
This new shop is a full circle of sorts for owners Jason and Theresa Belkin, who opened their first coffee shop 22 years ago in a former gas station along Montauk Highway in Water Mill.
Over the past two decades, the shop has made a name for itself as a stalwart supporter of the community that supports its coffee, donating to about 100 local charities and providing coffee for community events.
Before their opening at 6 a.m. Jan. 17, they held a party Saturday for friends and family where all coffee drinks were free, but donations were accepted for HUGS, Inc., the Westhampton-based youth services organization that works to keep kids off of drugs.
HUGS director Kym Laube had first suggested the Aquebogue location to the Belkins, said Hampton Coffee Company’s public relations spokeswoman, Edythe Collins, who greeted customers as they walked through the door Sunday morning. She said the event Saturday had raised $1,400 for HUGS.
Hampton Coffee Company has had great success with their strategy of opening roadside locations along the East End’s busiest main thoroughfares. Their most recent shop before Aquebogue was opened in a former car dealership on County Road 39 in Southampton, where their small-batch roastery is now located.
“It draws in traffic,” said Ms. Collins. “A lot of people come in on their way to work to use the WiFi and do some work in a nice, quiet setting.”
Ms. Collins, who began working in the Southampton shop in May, said many customers there actually commute to the South Fork from the North Fork, and she’d seen many familiar customers in Aquebogue on opening morning.
“We have very loyal customers,” she said.
The coffee shop will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, with a dedicated staff of six headed by Theresa Belkin, who was busy Sunday morning preparing espresso drinks and preparing for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to be held at noon.
Jovani Sanchez will serve as assistant manager, and Marlene Quizhpi will be the store’s shift supervisor.
Hampton Coffeee Company has prepared a new roast specifically for the Aquebogue shop, North Fork Organic, an estate-grown South American coffee that produces a “mellow cup with light floral acidity and a crisp, clean finish.”
The building, at 272 Main Road, had originally housed Brownie Bokina’s garage, built in 1938. Ms. Collins said the garage doors are two different sizes, perhaps because one was larger to accommodate trucks. Hampton Coffee Company plans to open the garage doors in the summer and serve coffee under umbrellas on the front patio, and at picnic tables behind the shop.
In renovating the building, Hampton Coffee Company left in place an original brick wall, and restored the façade and lighting that had historically stood on the front of the building.
Ms. Collins said Hampton Coffee Company hopes to be part of Riverhead’s revitalization.
“What they need is more local businesses, and this really drives the idea of local business home,” she said.