CUPS Brings Java Back to Grandin Road

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Michelle Bennett recently launched CUPS Coffee & Tea.

Michelle Bennett recently launched CUPS Coffee & Tea.

Many know Michelle Bennett from her days at Mill Mountain Theatre and Center in the Square, where marketing was her forte. In the back of her mind though was always the thought of opening something along the lines of CUPS Coffee & Tea, a new gathering place she debuted with two other partners on September 7th. Several ex-Mill Mountain Theatre employees are working some hours at CUPS as well.

In addition to coffee and tea, Bennett will keep it local by serving salads, pastries and other delectables prepared by nearby businesses in the Grandin Road area.

Bennett, who also spent many years in the restaurant business, has been planning this for a while. “This has been a giant learning experience,” said Bennett, who shares her building with Rockfish restaurant.  She hopes to gain a following from the “many different cycles of customers,” in the Grandin area, from the movie theater crowd, local residents, students after school and even the late night restaurant worker crowd.  She will open at 7 a.m. seven days a week, and plans to close early Sunday and Monday, then later as the week goes on.

If there is enough business, Bennett said she will “stay open all night,” on Friday and Saturday to catch the late moviegoers, cooks, bartenders, etc.  in the area. Live acoustic music and perhaps improv comedians from Big Lick Conspiracy may be called on to provide entertainment.

Of course coffee and tea are the focus, with specialty coffees available in many varieties. Serving foods prepared elsewhere spared Bennett the expense of putting in a full kitchen. “We are so lucky here to have great local food. Grandin Road is all about locavores.”  The Natural Foods Co-op will make salads and sandwiches, Viva La Cupcake will produce biscotti and scones; a private baker will supply cheesecake.

“There hasn’t really been a place on this street [to drink coffee],” said Bennett, noting the closing of Coda several years ago.  She even hopes that parents who bring their children for dance lessons at Roanoke Ballet Theatre down the block will cool their heels with a cup of Joe at CUPS. The Grandin Theatre Film Club will meet there also. “I’m all about working with the folks on this street,” said Bennett.

Grandin area artist Katherine Devine will offer art for youngsters during the day so “stroller moms” in the area can have a few minutes alone with their coffee or tea.  A local roaster from Smith Mountain Lake will supply the coffee – the house blend is entitled Double D Cups. “It stands for dark and delicious,” said Bennett with a twinkle in her eye, “I do everything with a sense of humor.” The roaster may hold coffee education/appreciation classes as well.

“Excited and scared,” said Bennett of her brand new venture, citing a line from the Broadway musical – naturally – Into the Woods.

CUPS Coffee & Tea, 1402 Grandin Road. 339-9675.

By Gene Marrano
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