Coffee/ice cream shop in the works at Mario's site

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BEREA -- When construction for the Chestnut Street Pavilion began last spring, city officials hoped the new home to the Berea Farmer's Market would spur investment in that area of town.

Just two months after the facility's grand opening, local residents are announcing plans to open a combination coffee house/specialty ice cream shop; a place a take the family and to get brunch on weekends.

Realtor Sandy and Bill Adams purchased the Mario's building on Chestnut Street last June, and now plans are underway to convert the building into an attractive venue that will feature live music and outdoor activities. The venture, which does not yet have a name, will be under the management of the Adams' daughter, Madison Southern High School alumna Hayley Rogers.

"Think of it being like a brewery with the outside activities and the music but without the alcohol," said Sandy Adams. "That's the atmosphere that we're going for. Just a place where families can hang out and enjoy themselves."

Some of the menu items will be modeled on the fare similar to Cattywampus, a Lexington shop that features an enticing assortment of specialty ice creams and sundaes. Some of the brunch items, meanwhile, will be similar to offerings from Biscuit Head in Asheville, North Carolina, such as favored standbys biscuits and gravy.

Adams, who previously owned the Serendipity coffee house in Richmond near the Winn Dixie market, said the city's investment in the Chestnut Street Pavilion sparked the idea to get back into the coffee business.

"That's a big reason we made an offer on it," Adams said of the building that used to house Mario's. "We really didn't need that building, but because of the pavilion across the street, we saw the opportunity. That new farmer's market being across the street is why we became interested in this."

The Adams' expect their re-design of the Mario's building to be done in November, then hope renovations will be done by February or March. The goal is to be open by the spring of next year. The Adams family also owns the salon/former ice cream shop next to Mario's, which will continue to operate as a salon, according to Sandy Adams.

Because the shop will be relatively close to Interstate 75, the drive-thru is being reconfigured. Additionally, one wall will be largely refitted with folding doors so the store can be opened up to the outside. Adams Realty World, which has been in the same Chestnut Street location for 11 years, has staged a number of community events for their clients. She added she hopes to do more of that in conjunction with the new coffee/ice cream shop run by her daughter.

"We love doing things for the community, so when we do get this open, we're hoping to team up and do community events together," Adams said.

As the main proprietor of the business, Hayley Rogers said she hopes to create a business where there is a sense of community, but also one that can give groups and families more choices when it comes to have places to go in town.

"I'm very excited because I think it's something Berea needs," Rogers said. "We'll have a coffee club, and ice cream club, and hopefully other things like book clubs and mom clubs where people can get together."

Like her mother, Hayley will be a working mom trying to run the coffee shop - something of a family tradition since her mom operated Serendipity when she was young. But she said she's excited about the prospect of giving local residents some new choices. With the guidance of her parents, Rogers has developed a business plan, and architectural plans are under development, though she still hasn't made the final decision on what it will be called.

"Not yet," Rogers replied when asked if she's decided on a name. "We do know it'll be coffee and ice cream, and maybe brunch on weekends."

Berea Mayor Bruce Fraley expressed hope that the Adams' new venture is a sign of things to come for economic development near U.S. 25.

"I think Sandy Adams buying the Mario's property is a good example of where people see commercial potential in the property that surrounds the pavilion, whether it's on Chestnut Street or Mt. Vernon Road," Fraley said. "There are other commercial lots available within sight of the pavilion, in particular, on Mt. Vernon Road. In the x60s and 70s, those commercial businesses were very strong. There was a supermarket there, a motel, a car dealership and others. Some of those lots in that area are vacant, and it is my hope that because they are zoned commercial, it will create new interest in reviving the Mt. Vernon Road commercial district.

Fraley said the new coffee house/specialty ice cream shop may also spur commercial development on Chestnut Street headed toward Interstate 75 exit 76.

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