On Friday, January 29, Dean and Stephanie Tatman took ownership of Dolce, the popular coffee shop and bakery on North Walnut Street in Milford. Dolce’s previous owners, Chuck Stanko and George Carroll, have owned and operated the coffee shop for 10 years.
“At the ten year mark, we realized we had done with Dolce all that we could do,” Chuck said. “We had many soul-searching discussions and realized we needed to move on for our sake and Dolce’s sake.” Chuck said that he and George had no definite plans immediately. He said that there were a few business ideas they were considering, but that they wanted to take some time off away from the daily rigors of running a small business to think things through. Chuck said they plan to remain in the area as they have made a lot of friends that would be hard to leave.
The Tatman’s are a young couple who moved to the Milford area seven years ago. Steph, 28, and Dean, 34, say that they have a lot of energy and new ideas that they think will enhance the Dolce experience. Dean owns a landscaping business, Tatman Property Solutions, in Harrington with customers split between the Milford and Harrington area. Stephanie is a CPA with a Master’s in Accounting and works for the State of Delaware. They also have two dogs, a golden retriever named Riley and a German shepherd named Kelsey. Dean was raised in Felton and Stephanie in Smyrna before they moved to Harrington.
“We want to keep things that the current Dolce customers know and love,” Stephanie said. “We do hope to expand by offering some new products and participating in various events via a mobile set up. We were customers before we became owners and we love Dolce exactly the way it is. Our plan isn’t to change what is working well at Dolce, we simply want to build on what is already established and hopefully make the experience even better. We are hands down most excited to get to know everyone in the community. Our hope and prayer is that we may have a positive impact on their lives. If we can brighten someone’s day with a friendly greeting and a delicious treat, it is all worth it.” Stephanie said that their biggest challenge so far has been the “baker’s hours” required to operate a coffee shop.
Chuck said that the biggest challenge he and George faced while running Dolce was time. He said that running a small business sounds ideal, but that it takes a lot of time, often away from family and friends. He said that being your own boss and having control of your own destiny sounds great when someone starts a small business, but he said that he quickly learned that he had little control in anything.
“The best part of owning the shop was definitely meeting different people,” Chuck said. “There are a lot of wonderful, caring people here in town. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to interact with such a diverse group of people and forming friendships with many of them. My best advice to Dean and Stephanie would be to smile. So many people have said that they can always count on coming to Dolce and feeling good. Great pastries and coffee, yes, but more that everyone was smiling and friendly to them. The new owners have great smiles and they are really nice people, so we believe they will do well.”
Chuck said that he and George were very grateful for the support of the town that allowed them to build their dream. He said that they were blessed by the many people who wanted Dolce to work, downtown to work and to be successful enough to stay.
“However, just because we are stepping aside, Dolce and downtown still needs everyone’s help and attention,” Chuck said. “Small towns, in general, are tough places to have a business and Milford is no exception. We all want a picturesque, prosperous town center, but it ‘takes a village’ to make it work.”