March 8 - 2021
Coffee Geography Magazine
Customers of Newburyport’s Plum Island Coffee Roasters
have launched a Change.org petition to save the business after it announced
that its 15-year run will come to an end in March.
The coffee shop revealed on Feb. 16 that its landlord,
Newburyport Development, terminated its tenant agreement.
“I was astounded,” said owner Bruce Vogel, who purchased
the business from its original owners in January 2011. “I was absolutely
Chris Skiba, general manager of Newburyport Development,
announced in an e-mail that “Plum Island Coffee Roasters was not evicted
from their site. Their lease expired in early 2019, and the coffee shop’s
relationship with Newburyport Development was held over as a month-to-month
tenant agreement for more than two years.”
A copy of the termination notice, dated Feb. 10, was
provided to the media. Titled “Notice of Termination of Tenancy at Will,” the
letter states that the coffee shop’s tenancy will be terminated effective March
Vogel, who also owns Souffles coffee shop in
Newburyport’s Market Square, confirmed that when he first bought the business,
he had a lease with Newburyport Development, which is part of New England
Development. The lease expired at the end of January 2019; since then, he has
been a tenant at will.
Luchos, a casual Mexican restaurant, will take the coffee
shop’s place. The newcomer is owned by The Fleury Group, whose portfolio
includes New Hampshire restaurants Bernie’s Beach Bar, The Goat, The Green
Room, and Wally’s Restaurant.
Originally opened in 2006, Plum Island Coffee Roasters
has become a go-to destination on Newburyport’s waterfront.
Bruce Vogel, Owner of Plum Island Coffee
“Relationships are made there,” said Vogel, estimating
that 150,000 to 175,000 people come through the door every year. “It’s a place
to cry and it’s a place to laugh and it’s a place to meet.”
Vogel said that Plum Island Coffee Roasters has always
paid its rent on time and that, despite the pandemic, 2020 was a banner year
for the business. Now, he doesn’t know what the end of March will bring — but
said they’re not going quietly, “if at all.”
The coffee shop’s customers are challenging the notice,
too. A Change.org petition organized by one of the shop’s regulars has garnered
over 11,500 signatures as of this article’s publication.
“PICR is more than the great coffee, it’s the location,
the essence,” the petition reads. “It has become a sacred part of Newburyport
and become a landmark, like the Pink House the Boardwalk, Bob Lobster or Oldies
“From the outpouring of support, we fully expect the
community will frequent Bruce Vogel’s other coffee venture in Newburyport:
Souffles,” Skiba said.
But for Vogel, nothing can replace Plum Island Coffee
“What is a livelihood for one and place of employment for
many others, PICR is the modern day ‘General Store’ where all can meet, be
seen, be heard, study, sob, or laugh,” he said. “The community’s outcry and the disappointment among my employees
is heartbreaking and humbling. If nothing more, my hope is [New England
Development] will consider reevaluating the situation for their sake. If we are
able to find a mutually beneficial solution that allows us to stay where we
are, it would bring solace to the community.”