LACONIA — Karen Bassett and Ben Bullerwell, together with Reuben Bassett, Karen's husband, and Aaron Bassett, his cousin and partner at Burrito Me, will offer another unique treat to downtown with the opening of Wayfarer Coffee Roasters in June.
Reuben Bassett said that while he and Aaron Bassett are behind the enterprise, his wife and Bullerwell, both experienced coffee roasters, will operate it. "Downtown needs a place to go and relax," Karen Bassett remarked, "where you can enjoy people and appreciate coffee," explaining that the goal is to provide "an experience that brings people downtown."
Reuben Bassett said that the coffee shop will operate in the space last occupied by the Vintage Cafe, which will be joined with the vacant space next door. He expected the Bassetts and Bullerwell would undertake most of the renovation of the property themselves.
Bullerwell, a licensed electrician who has been a stay-at-home dad of late, worked in Seattle, where Karen Bassett grew up, a city renown for its appetite for coffee. He also developed a appreciation for the ambience of fine coffee shops during a spell in Europe. Confessing that electricity was never his passion, he said that roasting coffee is "far more up my alley." He will be the lead roaster.
Bullerwell said that the shop will feature "single origin coffees," using beans grown at specific locations by individual farmers with whom he is familiar, which will be roasted to draw out their "origin profiles." All the roasting will be done on the premises, enhancing the flavor of the coffee and the character of the setting. Bullerwell said the offerings will also include "cold-brewed iced coffee drawn from a tap."
Meanwhile, Karen Bassett will complement the selection of coffees with a limited menu of baked goods, highlighted by Liege waffles, a specialty on the streets of Belgium, fashioned of overnight yeasted dough laced with pearl sugar that carmelizes during baking. She said there will a few other items, but stressed "we'll keep it really simple at the beginning."
Bullerwell said that that by roasting the coffee and preparing the waffles "we will ensure the quality of our products by controlling the entire process from start to finish."
Reuben Bassett, who plays a prominent role in the Main Street Initiative and serves on the Master Plan Advisory Committee, said, "the best thing I can do for Laconia is open a new business." He insisted that "Laconia has a stronger economy than most people think," noting that sales at Burrito Me, which opened at the railroad station five years ago, are two or three times greater than its counterpart in Plymouth. Firms like New Hampshire Ball Bearing, Aavid Thermalloy and Titeflex, he said, represent a strong market, he said, and the prospect of residential students at Lakes Region Community College will add to the customer base.
Likewise, Bassett believes the opening of the Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub in Veterans Square this spring will benefit the other downtown eateries. "Unless it's another burrito shop," he laughed, "it's good for me."
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