SUMMIT, NJ - Conventional wisdom says it would be unwise to doubt a married couple that has the capacity and veracity to go from business concept, to proof of concept, to site and property acquisition, to construction, to Grand Opening -- and have a baby girl in the process -- all in the span of 10 months.
Such is the case of Erin and Stephen Bellamy, whose second "child" -- bespoke coffee shop Boxwood Coffee -- is now entering its third month of operation. The unique enterprise, located at 17 Beechwood Road, is a "independent, third-wave, artisanal coffee and tea shop" that quickly has become a community gathering spot, attracting Hilltop City consumers of all tastes and ages.
So far, the response has been nothing but positive. "We are thrilled with the support we have gotten from customers and the community at large," said Erin Bellamy. "It has been really rewarding, every day is different."
In a town that does not want for opportunities for a cup of coffee, it would seem challenging to select Summit as the destination for the concept, but actually the opposite is true, according to Stephen Bellamy. "We wanted a town-like atmosphere, with a great downtown that offered pedestrian traffic. Summit has a great community presence, and the consumer demographics here match our product offerings very well."
The Bellamy's motivation to pursue their own business was like a page out of an Entrepreneur 101 class. Stephen works in finance in New York City, and Erin was a corporate trainer, with one stop in her career being at a certain, large-scale coffee chain store, giving her key operational insight into running a coffee business.
In early 2014, Erin's less-than rewarding latest career stop triggered the activation of the Bellamy's dream: to be their own bosses and run their own business. The Bellamy's had friends who ran a similarly-themed coffee shop in Hoboken and, while the towns are very different, the feedback they received on the concept validated their aspirations from a financial viability perspective.
Erin resigned her job, and the hunt was on for locations. Falling in love with Summit and finding the ideal spot, it was on to the drawing and construction stage, then -- in December -- the doors opened. Of course, just prior to opening, the Bellamy's little one arrived, and it was clear that help was needed. Erin's mom, Sharon, was recruited, and the family had the ideal manager to fill any gaps and allow the Bellamy's to properly raise both of their newborns.
Boxwood Coffee offers an elevated selection of coffees, teas, along with select breakfast items -- such as pastries and parfaits -- and a lunch menu consisting of soups and sandwiches. The food items reflect the Bellamy's pro-activity and willingness to solicit and listen to customer feedback, tweaking the menu -- sometimes on a daily basis -- to meet the palates of their customers.
"We source all-natural products locally, the menu is constantly evolving, but we will always stay true to our standard," says Stephen. By example, customers have been asking for flavored syrups since Boxwood's opening, but the Bellamys have not been comfortable -- until just recently -- with potential suppliers. Now the syrups are in-house, having located a small company that provides the finest, organic syrups.
All the teas served are hand-blended, the coffee sourced from a custom coffee supplier, and even the milk is single-sourced. To illustrate, the coffee available will -- analogous to fresh-picked produce -- only be available in season, meaning it will be served when it is freshest, producing the true flavor of the bean. When one coffee is out of season, another in-season variety will take its place.
Another key factor is the high degree of product education the Bellamy's invest in their staff, generating a friendly, eager-to-inform vibe when approaching the counter.
The Bellamys are set to roll out a series of events that will be held at Boxwood, including music, open mic, book club events, and more. Ultimately, it really is about the magic little bean that millions love, and just as many cannot do without. "We want to bring coffee and tea back to its essence," said Stephen.
For more information on Boxwood Coffee, including shop hours, visit boxwoodcoffee.com.