Craft beer and artisan coffees may rule in the Capital City, but those with more delicate palates will soon have a place to slake their thirst: the North Branch on State Street.
At the café — set to open in April — wines and teas will dominate the menu, and coffee will be nowhere to be found. “There’s already plenty of coffee in Montpelier,” says Lauren Parker, who is partnering in the business with her husband, Wes, and their daughter, Rebecca. “Coffee would also change the aromas and character of the interior.”
Instead, the three committed tea drinkers will roll out a menu heavy on Harney & Sons Fine Teas, as well as teas designed for children from Warren’s Groove Tea Project. “We intend to focus on introducing kids to tea, because kids grow up thinking it’s really cool to drink coffee, but coffee isn’t exactly good for them,” Lauren Parker says. (Coffee won’t be banned from North Branch; java drinkers accompanying friends will be welcome to tote in their mugs.)
From Montpelier Property Management, the Parkers have leased space inside the ex-Chittenden Bank  building at 41 State Street, where they will also serve a weekly selection of wines by the glass at a window-length bar. During the day, the menu will include “sweeter finger food” such as pastries, Parker says, with savory snacks on offer in the evening, but no full lunch or dinner service.
Jostling up against the North Branch’s tearoom ambiance — or enhancing it, depending on your perspective — will be a second bar serving up ... software help?
“On one side will be a counter with technical service,” Parker explains, staffed by her network consultant husband. Wes Parker may also offer computer classes in the meeting space that will be part of the café.
“It’s … an eclectic, Montpelier kind of thing,” says Lauren Parker, who envisions the North Branch as a “comfortable place where people will want to stay and commune.”