CASTLETON — Fair Haven’s loss may be Castleton’s gain: After a year and a half in Fair Haven, the Kinder Way Cafe is moving over a town to sling their renowned maple lattes and plant-based sandwiches from the former home of the Depot Cafe.
After the Gutel family, which owns the Kinder Way Cafe, closed their restaurant in April, just over a year after moving their entire family, farm and business across the country to start a new life in Vermont, Mark and Erika Gutel shrunk their breakfast and lunch operation to a food truck serving their sought-after maple lattes and nitro-cold-brew coffee.
But the zoning permits in each town they tried to park in were nearly impossible to acquire, and Mark Gutel said the idea was quickly losing steam. Though they kept serving at the Vermont Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, the Gutels found themselves missing their old cafe, customers and serving them coffee and pastries every day.
“We needed a home base again,” Mark said.
So one day, the couple returned to one of their favorite spots in Castleton for a hot cup of coffee: the Depot Cafe.
But the cafe was closed.
“We looked at each other at the same time, and said, ‘We should call that number,’” Mark said. “And Maryann gave us a shot.”
Maryann Jakubowski owns the Depot Cafe property, according to the Castleton Town Clerk, which was previously rented by two local businesses that closed at that location earlier this year.
Thus the Kinder Way at the Depot was born: The new location is smaller, with only 14 seats as opposed to the original Kinder Way’s original 24, and will have more of a coffee-shop vibe rather than a restaurant, Mark said. “Not a lot of sandwiches, not a lot of lunch,” Mark said. “Some light fare, salads and soup. We learned: You have to simplify.”
The Depot is leased for a year, and both of the Gutels are chomping at the bit to get back behind the counter and back to their customers, with a goal opening date of June 1.
“It’s almost like withdrawal,” Mark said. “We were selling everything, and then Maryann called. We went and bought some things back.”
The keys are changing hands this Saturday, and after a visit from the plumber, electrician, and health inspector, the Gutels said they’re eager to revive their partnerships with local businesses like Rebecca’s Kitchen, will continue selling Woodstock-based Abracadabra coffee with Mahar’s maple syrup from Middletown Springs, and selling vegan and vegetarian-friendly cupcakes, cookies and pastries from local bakeries.
“Duchess Farm is going to be getting us all of their fresh greens,” Erika said. “Sometimes we’ll do soup in a bread-bowl.”
Mark said the couple sold their boat, their horse trailer, cars and equipment so they didn’t have to take our another loan to start up the Kinder Way at the Depot.
“We’re selling everything we own to go out on a limb and do this again,” Mark said. “I believe in our mission. That’s getting good food in the hands of good people who want it and need it.”
Though the new space won’t have the art for consignment and live music of their old cafe, the Kinder Way Cafe at the Depot does have an enormous back deck with chairs to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine, study for finals, and try fresh-pressed juices and smoothies.
“It’s like Erika keeps telling me: I don’t have to save the world, I just have to give them a place to rest for a bit,” Mark said. “If you’re looking to have a good cup of coffee poured for you and good conversation, that’s what we’re about.”