Shelburne Falls Coffee takes over shops in Northampton, Greenfield

  • Greenfield Coffee on the corner of Main Street and Bank Row in Greenfield. 22, 2019 Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters Bakery and Cafe on Federal Street in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Northampton Coffee, at 269 Pleasant St., above, and Tart Baking Co. on Main Street, below, have been purchased by the owners of Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters. STAFF PHOTOS/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tart Baking Co., 192 Main Street, in Northampton, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tart Baking Co., 192 Main Street, in Northampton, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tart Baking Co., 192 Main Street, in Northampton, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A customer works in a window seat at Tart Baking Co. in Northampton, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jared Alvord, of Fayston, Vt., works at his laptop at Northampton Coffee, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dave Hayes, of Deerfield, works at his laptop at Northampton Coffee, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/25/2019 11:09:33 AM

GREENFIELD – Fifteen years ago Mukunda Feldman, already a decade deep in a career in coffee, opened Northampton Coffee. A couple of years later he opened Amherst Coffee. Then, in 2010 Greenfield Coffee opened in the center of downtown.

With a 2½-year-old and 6-month-old in his family, Feldman, now a quarter-century into the coffee world, has been searching for someone to take over his business. After a long search, Feldman found a strong and natural fit in Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, run by Curtis Rich, his wife, Kathy Lytle, and their daughter Annabelle.

“When you run out of energy for something, it’s better to say, ‘Hey, I can’t do this anymore, but that doesn’t mean somebody else shouldn’t be able to push it forward,’” Feldman said. “I think they are in so many ways the perfect family to do that.”

Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters has officially taken over a majority of Feldman’s business — Northampton Coffee, Greenfield Coffee and Tart Baking Co. in Northampton. Feldman will retain Amherst Coffee, the flagship shop on which he recently completed extensive renovations.

What does this mean for the newly acquired coffee and bake shops?

“The gist of this move is the businesses we’re taking over are running nicely as they are and we want to keep that going,” said Rich, who owns the seven Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters shops that are found as far south as East Longmeadow.

It is “inevitable some kind of cross-pollination” will occur, Rich said, but he wants to keep each coffee shop distinct.

He does not plan on changing the coffee, the baked goods or style of either shop. The employees are also expected to be retained and their salary maintained — a condition for Feldman — and Rich hopes that the acquisition can create additional jobs, most likely on the administrative side.

“It’s nothing that we ever dreamed up of on our own,” Rich said, but “as the opportunity came, all the factors came together, we went for this whole package.”

While Rich is looking forward to the expansion, Feldman is excited for things to wind down a bit and have a chance to spend more time with his two daughters.

“I’m grateful for all of my customers and the people who came into the stores and were a really significant part of the last 15 years of my life,” Feldman said. “Nothing but overwhelmingly good thoughts and memories about it.”

The coffee business has been a “labor of love” for Feldman. He said he has turned down more profitable opportunities that would’ve led to stores closing. The margins have been shrinking and it can be challenging at times in the Pioneer Valley to hold onto the small business appeal when you open additional stores, he said.

“I applaud how (Rich and Lytle) have been able to build their business and that they feel comfortable taking on these businesses,” Feldman said. “What they’re able to give both to customers and employees, in terms of structure and support, is admirable and I understand how hard fought it is.”

Feldman doesn’t see this transition as him handing the reins over to a competitor, but more as him passing on the business to someone else in the coffee family in the Valley.

Joshua Solomon can be reached at jsolomon@recorder.com.




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