One of downtown Gloucester's best-known coffee shops and eateries is closing its doors as its owners turn their focus squarely on the restaurant they opened 18 months ago in Manchester.
The Pleasant Street Tea Company, for 11 years a fixture off the busy intersection of Main, Pleasant and Duncan streets, will be shutting its doors for good, perhaps by the end of the this week.
"Whenever we run out of coffee," said co-owner Glenn Varga, who has run the popular downtown gathering place with his wife Allie, when asked about a Tea Company closing date.
Varga said the couple's Allie's Beach Street Cafe, at 35 Beach St. in downtown Manchester, has been flourishing since its November 2017 opening, and they simply decided to steer their efforts into that shop.
"We had a good run. Eleven years is like an eternity in the restaurant business," Varga said of the Tea Company, but speaking from Beach Street. "But this is a more visible location, and we're doing about four times the volume here we were doing otherwise. It's just time to go."
Varga said the Tea Company's lease had expired on its location, officially listed as 7 Pleasant St. but part of the Brown's Mall building anchored at 186 Main St.
While he had not negotiated a new lease, he said that talks with the ownership group — Jimary Land Trust, an affiliate of the Montagnino Realty Group — were "not contentious." The Montagnino family owns a number of properties across Gloucester, notably commercial sites such as mixed-use Brown's Mall, the one-time Smokin' Jim's barbecue restaurant and True World Foods property on East Main Street, and the former Sears Hometown Store on Eastern Avenue.
"Money is always one issue you have to deal with," Varga said. "I can tell you that if we were making a million dollars (at the Tea Company) we wouldn't be closing it. But it really is just about moving ahead.
"This place (Beach Street) has been much busier than we thought it would be, and we're focusing on what we have going here." Allie's Beach Street Cafe offers a dinner menu as well as a full bar, while the Tea Company — whose regular customers have numbered several city officials and downtown business leaders — largely focused on a wide range of coffees, breakfasts and luncheon fare.
"When you have two restaurants, you don't have time for the fun stuff — that's talking with the customers, working with the products," Varga said.
He said he and Allie — who live in Magnolia, ironically midway between the two shops — considered placing the Tea Company up for sale, but decided against that, opting to simply close up shop.
Marcy Pregent, who markets properties for the Montagnino family and its trusts, could not be reached Tuesday regarding any potential successors for the Tea Company space.
Varga said the Tea Company employs seven people, many of whom are taking positions at Beach Street.
He added that Beach Street will honor any Tea Company gift certificates.
"We're not having any final party or anything," Varga said. "We have been reaching out to our customers, and have been walking them to the new place. After all, we do still have a coffee bar — but we just took what we were doing (in Gloucester) and have grown it more. It's time."
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705, or firstname.lastname@example.org.