Coffee Shop Seeks To Promote Sense of Community in Morris
By TERESA WINCHESTER
Chris Riffle and Timothy Atticus moved to Gilbertsville from New York City in 2020. Prior to that, both men had lived in Seattle. With their newly-opened enterprise, The Gatehouse Café and Mercantile at 129 Main Street, Riffle and Atticus are aiming to combine something of New York City’s artistic and cultural vibe and Seattle’s well-known coffee culture with local products and talent.
Although opened for business since September 23, a grand opening—featuring live music and tastings of products—will take place on November 11 from 4-7 p.m.
“We will have samplings of store offerings and many of the artisans who stock our store will be present as well. We want people to meet the maker behind the brand,” Atticus said.
Some of the local businesses to be represented in person include Badgerface Beauty Supply (Gilbertsville), Amour-A-La-Main (Mount Upton), The Wakeman Coffee Co. (Sidney), Green Sun Tea (Sidney), Thistlemint Farm (Laurens) and Catskill Botanicals (Delhi).
Gatehouse coffees, which include lattes and espresso, are made from The Wakeman Coffee Co., a small-batch, hand-roasted specialty roastery in Sidney. Yet another Sidney enterprise – Flying Saucer Tea Station – provides the shop with freshly picked loose-leaf teas. Chai tea is also served and a wide variety of pastries, made by Simply Jess of Otego, are available each day.
The shop’s retail component includes antiques, pottery, jewelry, woolens, linens and shelf staples. Kitchen wares, glassware, baskets, and candles and many other items attractively fill shelves and display tables.
Bella Cucina Artful Food products is one of the shop’s main offerings. Its Pizza Party Kit was recently included among the “Best Food and Kitchen Gifts’’ in Oprah Winfrey’s “2023 Favorite Things” list.
“Bella Cucina offers all natural, small batch pestos and flatbreads,’’ said Atticus, who has worked as a sales representative for the company.
In keeping with the desire to market as many quality local products as possible, Atticus and Riffle also carry apple sauce, peach butter, and apple butter from Green Sun Orchard, a small, family-owned orchard in Trout Creek which grows heritage apples and other fruits.
“The focus of the shop is on quality coffee and creating a community space. We have Wi-Fi and want people to feel welcome here. I’m drawn to the idea of a community space to sit, gather and just spend time. I got used to having that in New York City and Seattle, and I have missed it here,’’ Riffle said.
Atticus, an abstract artist, holds a master’s degree in art history from Cooper Union School of Art. He has worked at the Museum of Modern Art, and currently teaches drawing at SUNY-Oneonta. He sees museums as a site for community and wants to incorporate a similar concept into The Gatehouse. Some of his art is displayed on the shop walls.
Riffle’s artistic bent is music.
‘’Music is my first passion. I write songs, have recorded four albums, and toured nationally and internationally,” said Riffle, adding that the lounge has a “great sound system focused on a listening audience.’’
As one way to promote community spirit, Atticus and Riffle will offer their space as a music venue in a welcoming lounge off of the main store space. This goal got well underway on October 29, when Riffle, with Liam Herbert and Khalil Jade, gave a program of acoustic music from 4-7 p.m. Approximately 50 people, largely Morris residents, attended.
Atticus and Riffle would also like to have readings and open mic nights to spotlight local poets and writers.
Community response has been positive.
“It’s an absolute treasure. We’re very fortunate they decided to do something with this place. No one has been in here for quite a while. It’s a magnificent building and they’ve got the best coffee. I wish them luck,” said Diane Belsky of Morris, who was enjoying coffee with her friends, Lois and Robert Jones, also of Morris.
Stopping in for the first time, Morris residents Ginger and Paul Olsen were impressed.
“I think it’s a great addition to the village. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from everyone who’s been here,” Ginger said.
“It’s terrific. I hope it takes off. I can see coming here in the morning with a couple of neighbors and having a cup of coffee,” Paul said.
By its name, The Gatehouse preserves a part of local history. At the end of the drive of a stone house on Main Street is a small structure long referred to as “the Gatehouse.” In 1966, Audrey, Peter and Virginia Gregory began operating an antique store there, naming it The Gatehouse Antiques. In 1984, they moved their business to the corner of Main and Broad streets. Gary Norman, Peter and Audrey’s son-in -law, opened Gatehouse Books in the building in 2000. The original hand-painted sign, “The Gatehouse, Established 1966,” remains prominently displayed above the entrance.
Shop hours will be from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. It will be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.