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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 1, 2010

New café promises to bring a bit of Tuscany to Altamont

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT — In 2008, Nancy Turner fell in love with café life while visiting Italy. In mid-May, she hopes to bring the spirit of the Italian café to Altamont by opening 100 Main Bean and Bakery, a Tuscan-inspired coffee shop, serving light lunch, breads, and desserts.

“Every new place we went in Italy, the first thing we did was find a café to have a cappuccino,” said Turner of her trip with husband, Bill; the couple owns the Altamont Old Stone House Inn. “The idea for the new café was from this trip. Before that, it wasn’t something I’d thought about at all. People need to find time to just sit quietly and relax, even for just 15 minutes.”

The café will be located next to the Altamont Wine Shoppe at 100 Main St. Bill Turner owns the wine store and the husband-and-wife team have been managing the plans needed to divide the space, creating the café out of half of the current wine store.

While the idea may have come to Nancy Turner in Italy, it is the people of Altamont that inspired her to follow through with her idea. “Altamont is a very outgoing and sophisticated community,” said Turner. “People are really looking for a place to go and sit and visit with friends.  It’s also a big walking community. They can walk down to the café, which will be open until 7 p.m. We’ll have coffee, dessert, or people can stop and get bread for dinner. That’s my vision: to have people coming down and sitting and visiting in a nice, safe, clean environment.”

While the café will be open until 7 p.m., Turner said that she also hopes to begin a once-a-month Friday night evening where live musicians can perform, and the café will stay open late.

For the last four months, Turner has been researching regional coffee and dessert makers, a task she jokingly describes as responsible for her gaining 10 pounds. The coffee will be from Chris’ Coffee, a local roaster based in Albany, which is the same brand of coffee the Turners serve at their bed-and-breakfast inn.

Chris and Pattie Nachtrieb, owners of Chris’ Coffee, credit the high quality of their coffee beans to an unusual partnership. The two partner with one of the world’s preeminent coffee cuppers, who like a wine taster, has a unique ability to determine the most essential flavor traits of coffees from different origins.

For the desserts, Turner chose a few regional bakers, including Brickhouse Cakery in Schenectady, a home-based bakery that will provide gluten-free and peanut-free products for the café.

Turner said her experience serving food and coffee at her inn has helped her to understand what people want in both their food and their environment in a café.

“Right now, people are into all natural,” said Turner. “And they want a good clean cup of coffee that’s not too bitter and not too weak. And people want to feel special. If people are staying in for coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or even a soda, it’s going to be in a cup or a glass. They’ll be served at their table and paper will only be used for takeout. They’ll have five minutes feeling like they’re somebody.”

Finally, Turner said, she will start a pie club at the new cafe. The pies will be from Gardner Pie Company, based in Ohio. “They’re like homemade pies. They’re better than I can make myself, and I love my pie crusts,” she said.

Some of the flavors that will be highlighted as a “pie of the week” will be cherry lime chipotle, jabanero peach, and mango strawberry. Customers who join the pie club and buy 10 pies will get the 11th one free.

The Gardner Company specializes only in pies and ships them all over the country. Its website even gives the history of the pie, claiming that it dates back to the ancient Egyptians. According to the website’s “pie lore,” piecrusts used to be referred to as “coffins” and, since birds were among the most popular pie stuffing, the legs were usually left to hang over the side of the dish to be used as handles.

Turner said her pies would be limited to fruit.

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