A little bit of Coffee’s History
“We are proud of our history and the way in which our family business has evolved over the years from a small ‘corner store’ to the vibrant market, catering business and meeting place that our customers enjoy today.”
In February 1958, Kenneth and Margaret Coffee purchased their local corner store and so COFFEE’S Country Market & Fine Catering was born.
Coffee’s Market was born in 1958, but the Laysville store was originally founded by Nellie Maynard and stood on the north side of the Post Road, just west of Town Woods Road.
It was sold to A.F. “Gus” Heeder and renamed the “Corner Grocer”. The hurricane of ’38 wrecked that store and it was rebuilt across the road in its current location and continued under Heeder until 1958 when Kenneth Coffee Sr. and Margaret came to town.
The Missouri and Kansas natives had been stationed in Groton at the end of his naval career and their plan was to “head west”. Luckily for the residents of Old Lyme they got no further than Laysville, where they bought the store. Margaret not only worked in the store and raised her family of seven, but also worked as a nurse at “Seaside”.
New businesses were added and the once “Corner Grocer” became the vibrant “Laysville Center”. The Center may have changed in size, but not in character; it became the nerve center of a community and so it remains today. As the Main Street News once put it “If you stand around Coffee’s Market, a.k.a. Laysville Market, long enough, you’ll probably talk with everyone you know in Lyme and Old Lyme, many you don’t know, and a few strangers just passing through on the Post Road.”
In 1973 and following the renovation of the store, the Coffee family suffered an untimely loss of its patriarch. Ownership of two separate businesses was passed to the two oldest sons. Kenneth W Coffee Jr. would own and manage Coffee’s Market Inc. and his younger brother John would own and manage Laysville Hardware in silent partnership with their mother Margaret. All three would raise or continue raising their families for the next 30 years.
The twenty years following the 1973 renovation has been an evolution of the center; a kind of history lesson of social and economic change in the area. In addition to the market and hardware, other businesses that have shared the space included a television sales and repair, pizza kitchen, gift shop variety store, video rental and delicatessen.
Ken Jr., and John’s older sister Shirley, have been an integral part of the success, vitality and shared responsibility of the market since the doors opened in 1958. They can still be found at the checkout counter providing a wealth of local knowledge and a warm welcome to visitors to the area with the same happy demeanor that the town has come to enjoy and appreciate. Their youngest brother Hugh, having been raised a child of both businesses is currently enjoying a career in banking and in 2002 returned to an ownership interest in the building and property.
In October 2002 Ken Jr. and his brother John Coffee temporarily closed their doors for what was to be a “three month renovation”. It was a long, hard winter with harsh weather fighting the family and their contractors every step of the way. Even the parking lot repaving, originally scheduled for April, had to be postponed because of a late winter snowstorm. But with special thanks to builder architect Bob Chapman, in May 2003 Coffee’s Market, and Laysville Hardware reopened allowing a third generation of Coffees to dream.
Ken Sr. and Margaret’s grandson Ken and his wife Teresa, who had returned to the market to run Laysville Deli in 1996, took over ownership of both market and deli, adding full service catering for small and large receptions, weddings, event planning and corporate functions. They are supported by a team of culinary school trained chefs and confident and experienced staff. True to Coffee’s form, Kenny and Teresa continue to evolve the Market with new brands and new catering customers being added weekly.
Is that the end of the story? Highly unlikely … just ten minutes talking to Teresa and Kenny is enough to demonstrate that Coffees will never stop evolving. They both bubble with ideas and it is clear that they will never stop striving to meet the needs of their customers, old and new.
Watch this space for the next chapter in Coffees history.