New coffee roaster, swim school approved in Norwich

Norwich — Two new businesses — a downtown coffee shop and coffee and cocoa roasting facility, and a swim school facility in Occum — received unanimous approval from the city planning commission Tuesday, with members welcoming the businesses to the city.

Matthew Dutrumble, owner of Craftsman Cliff Roasters, plans to open a retail coffee shop that also would roast coffee and cacao beans for wholesale distributions to local breweries for use in coffee and cocoa-flavored beer and to local markets and other cafes. The 20-25 seat shop will be located at 34 Broadway, a downtown commercial building on the block between the Norwich Superior Courthouse and City Hall.

Dutrumble said the aroma of roasting coffee and cacao beans is “pleasant” and that alone should draw foot traffic to lower Broadway. He told the Commission on the City Plan during a public hearing on his application that he would not need parking, because many potential customers live and work downtown and are “already here and parked” when the shop will be open.

The shop would serve coffee and cocoa by the cup and also will sell bakery goods from local sources.

He will package roasted beans after hours and will walk them to his vehicle parked elsewhere in the area, not on the congested two-lane, one-way street in front of the shop.

Two residents who live in apartments above the proposed shop, Judith Demac and Todd St. Germain, both supported the plan and said excitement in the block already is building.

“I've been watching him every day,” Demac said. “It's exciting to watch. Businesses have been asking, 'When is it going to open?' I really think it will benefit downtown Norwich.”

Resident Heather Romanski said she comes downtown with her young children to go to Otis Library. “I would love to go there and chat over a hot chocolate,” she said.

Dutrumble said he hopes to open in fall.

“I think this is a great thing for our city,” planning commission member Kathy Warzecha said. “I look forward to going there with my family. Thank you very much for taking a chance here.”

The commission also unanimously approved plans by the Baltic-based Bubbles to Butterfly Swim School to build a new 6,200-square-foot facility with 72 parking spaces on a 1.2-acre vacant lot at 61 Taftville-Occum Road, also Route 97, in Occum.

The school would contain a 60-foot-long, approximately 5-foot-deep “non-competitive” pool that mainly would be used for swimming lessons. Owner Margee Charron said the facility also would have time for open swimming and rentals for parties and events.

“I think it's something good for the community,” Warzecha said.

c.bessette@theday.com

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