Freckled Fox Cafe settles into downtown Florence, brings own blend of charm

  • Kitty Johndrow and her husband, Tom, not pictured, opened Freckled Fox at 1 N. Main St. in Florence in September 2017. GAZETTE STAFF/Bera Dunau

  • The Freckled Fox Giving Tree. Customers can purchase a voucher for items off the menu. The voucher is hung on the tree. Anyone can then pick the voucher off the tree and be served the item, on the condition that they do a random act of kindness for someone else. GAZETTE STAFF/Bera Dunau

Published: 12/17/2017 6:10:54 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Freckled Fox Cafe is the culmination of a dream for Kitty Johndrow. For years, she wanted to open her own cafe. Now, she and her husband Tom have made that dream a reality.

“We’re really enjoying it,” said Kitty.

Located in the old Cup and Top Cafe location on 1 N. Main Street in Florence, the Freckled Fox kept a number of features from the old establishment, including several of its old employees. However, Kitty emphasized that Freckled Fox Cafe is very much its own entity.

“We did change a lot,” said Kitty.

Indeed, prior to the space’s opening on Labor Day, a renovation was done. This involved a repainting, and putting in new counters, among other alterations.

Recipes were also altered and menu items were added. The Freckled Fox offers soups made from scratch, homemade mac and cheese, muffins and baguettes baked in-house and sandwiches with an extra ounce of meat, among other offerings.

Kitty also noted that changes are still being made to the menu.

“We’re still newborns in this,” she said.

The Freckled Fox’s mascot is Fern, a Fox with freckles. Her creation was inspired by the family’s rescue dog.

“When she was naughty we called her a Freckled Fox,” said Kitty.

Fern’s name comes from Kitty’s great aunt, who taught Kitty how to cook and bake.

“She owned a coffee shop in Connecticut in the early 1900s,” said Kitty.

Indeed Fern’s 100-year-old carrot cake recipe is now used at the Freckled Fox Cafe, and Kitty said that the cake is a popular offering.

A doll of Fern was made for the Freckled Fox by a local artisan, at the artisan’s request. Today, this Fern Doll “hangs out” all over the cafe, with child patrons sometimes being invited to “find Fern.” There are also coloring pages featuring Fern at the cafe.

Like Cup and Top before it, the Freckled Fox has a children’s play space. This area is now called The Fox’s Den, and it has been outfitted with new books and toys.

“We spruced it up,” she said.

Kitty is no stranger to children either. A mother and grandmother, she also ran a day care business for several years.

Another feature of the Freckled Fox is its Giving Tree. Customers can purchase items like a cup of coffee, a sandwich or a bowl of soup for a person in need, and place it on the tree at the counter. Every time this happens, Tom and Kitty make such a purchase themselves as well.

Any person can come in and take a donated item off the tree, no questions asked, on the condition that they do a random act of kindness for another.

“We have at least one person every day that takes something off the tree,” said Kitty.

It took Kitty and Tom about a year of searching before they found the Freckled Fox location. And she said that she and her husband have been welcomed by the neighboring businesses.

“It’s been really nice,” she said.

Many of the Cup and Top’s employees also stayed on at the Freckled Fox, with four currently being employed at the cafe.

“They’re wonderful,” said Kitty.

The business is now Kitty’s full-time job, while Tom works at Yankee Candle.



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