Passion for downtown Danbury inspires Pour Me owner
DANBURY — Andrea Gartner has a lot of passions, and many of them are embodied in her new restaurant, Pour Me Coffee and Wine Café, which opened this month at 274 Main St.
She loves supporting local small businesses, so she used greater Danbury architects, designers and builders, as well as offering kombucha, coffee and pen (meat) pies from local artisans. She loves history, so, with the help of Danbury Museum & Historical Society, she replicated on a wall an old billboard reading “Danbury Crowns Them All” that greeted rail travelers during the height of the hat industry.
She loves diversity and that is reflected on the “welcome wall” that translates “welcome” into 64 languages, including all of the languages spoken by students at Danbury public schools.
She loves her mother, who died last year from cancer, and the décor at Pour Me includes three copper teapots that used to belong to her mom. The “hyper blue” ceiling is a nod to her father, who was color blind, and painted their house a color “that no one could miss,” she said.
She has a passion for motherhood and vows to the make the restrooms at Pour Me “the best place in the city to change a baby.”
And she loves downtown Danbury and she hopes Pour Me becomes an integral part of the revitalization of Danbury’s city center.
“Because of my roots growing up here and being the first generation born in the U.S., downtown is very important to me,” said Gartner, the former director of CityCenter Danbury. “I grew up in Danbury before the mall was built and downtown was where commerce happened. It became my community.
“A vibrant urban core is vital to the community,” she added. “People in position of influence don’t always realize the value of a vibrant downtown. It’s about diversity, arts, culture, alternative lifestyles, exchanging ideas. It’s a trend of where people are going.”
Pour Me is part of another trend happening in downtown Danbury, which will soon feature three new coffee shops. Mothership Bakery opened late last year, Pour Me opened this month and Barristers Coffee House will open soon at the corner of Main and West streets.
“It’s a great sign to measure success. It’s a critical mass that will encourage people to come downtown because now there are choices,” Gartner said. “All three, however, have distinctly different concepts.”
Pour Me is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The menu includes salads, smoothies, vegan options, personal pizzas and entrees such as steak, chicken, salmon and scallops. The “Be a Kid” menu includes Nutty Butters, Nutty Banana, mac & cheese and quesadillas.
Pour Me’s chef, Matt Rieve, previously worked at Figs in Sandy Hook. Gartner currently employs about 20 people at Pour Me. In early May, Gartner received approval by City Council to offer sidewalk seating. It would be the only al fresco dining option on Main Street. She plans to offer delivery and curb-side pickup soon.
“The concept of Pour Me is around fresh food. Food is sustenance and medicine,” Gartner said. “Food brings people together and we all need more of that.”
Food and drink vendors include Sacred Grounds coffee in Sherman, Michelina’s Bakery in Danbury, and Cross Culture Kombucha in Danbury. Kombucha is a fermented sweet tea. The bread, spirits and teas are from nearby New York businesses.
Seventy2architects, a firm based in downtown Danbury, designed the restaurant with Gartner. Maura Newell Juan, a principal with the firm, said they aimed to design the look of an old European café.
“It’s a new, old theme. Everything in there is brand new, but it looks like an old speakeasy,” Newell Juan said. “It’s a mix of old and new look.”
Mark Moeller, a consultant with The Recipe of Success, added: “It’s awesome. It turned out incredible.”
For Gartner, hiring local firms, contractors and vendors is about sticking to her core values.
“The most powerful political statement you can make as an individual is how you spend your money,” she said. “I’ve always been willing to spend more money for fair trade products and with local small businesses. It has a ripple effect to serve people in the community. That’s important to me. Deciding who gets your money is very much in your control.”
Pour Me will hold grand opening ceremonies on Friday, June 16, with special events and giveaways throughout the day. To reach Pour Me Coffee and Wine Café, call 203-743-6246.
The writer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 203-731-3338