Northford Coffee & Ice Cream was looking forward to warmer days Saturday as they held their grand opening in conjunction with the Northford Store.
Though the cafe at 1504 Middletown Ave. has been , Saturday marked the first official day of business as hard and soft ice cream cones were doled out to wide-grinned children and their parents.
The hard ice cream is a premium brand made in Prospect, Conn. and there are a range of tempting flavors to choose from, including mint chocolate chip and toasted almond, said Diane Colozzi, who owns the shop and runs it with her husband, Tony Colozzi.
“We’re giving away free cones today and hoping everyone will see we have high quality ice cream,” Colozzi said. “It’s fun when people sample it and we see their reaction.”
Colozzi stood behind the counter and talked freely with customers, who seemed to be enjoying the free treats and the pleasant atmosphere. The cafe is located in an alcove connected to the Northford Store. There are a half dozen tables and a small counter space. Large nature photos taken Colozzi’s brother, Gary Schlegel, adorn the walls.
Of course, coffee precedes ice cream in the shop’s name and is just as much alluring as the ice cream treats. An espresso machine was cranking out hot beverages all day Saturday.
“It’s not often that you find coffee and ice cream in the same place,” Colozzi said. “We heard that coffee shops are slow in the summer and ice cream shops are slow in the winter, so we think this will balance it out for the whole year.”
Colozzi said she decided to open Northford Coffee & Ice Cream after she was approached by Nick Demos, who owns the Northford Store.
“I was a stay-at-home mom for many years,” Colozzi said. “I have two daughters and when the second one went off to college they didn’t need me anymore so I was back in the workforce. When this opportunity came up my husband supported me and I felt it was fun to do.”
Colozzi and her husband were working hard yesterday, but she’s also hired a small staff.
“I have a full-time morning shift and I’m the afternoon shift, she said. "We have part-time students from high school on the weekends,” she said, "[and] as business picks up, we’ll bring in more people.”
And when the weather warms up, Colozzi plans to add a patio outside with tables, chairs and umbrellas. Then, “it will be much more obvious on the street that something’s happening here, so lots of people will come in,” she said.
“We’re open at 6:30 in the morning for the coffee crowd and we’ll be open until 8 at night for ice cream,” Colozzi said. “We’re trying out various pastries to see what people like. I just brought in some truffles, and espresso with truffles is a very good combination.”
“We’ll wait for feedback,” she said. “We’ll ask our customers what they think.”