Bridgette Knoeller, owner of The Well Coffeehouse which recently opened along the Riverwalk in downtown Milford, says she hesitates to say they are a new business. She previously operated Ahh-Rise Café, but always wanted to be in the downtown area.
“We began this process three years ago,” Knoeller said. “We were located just outside of town, but we wanted to be downtown. We had the opportunity to move into a larger building, so we decided it was time.”
According to Knoeller, The Well offers “coffee with a purpose.” She dies not want it to be just a coffee house, but a place where people can get a hand-up rather than a hand-out. Knoeller operates the soup kitchen located in the Presbyterian church and says that helping others is her mission in life.
“It has been my dream to extend a hand to the community and bring people together at all levels,” Knoeller said. “One of the ways we are providing assistance is with our Floating Blessing Jar. People can pre-purchase items and place them in the jar for those who may need some help, whether it is a cup of coffee, a sandwich or a pastry. Those who need help can come in and dine without judgment. When people are on their last leg, they need support and we hope to provide that support. This is a place of being, a place of learning, a place to belong. I am not doing this for the money, although money helps. I am doing it because my heart is behind it.”
The Well will offer coffee, tea and pastries along with breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Although she has received emails and calls asking her to open for dinner, Knoeller said she will wait and get a feel for how the community feels about later service. She does not want to compete with other local breakfast and lunch locations but wants to provide an additional alternative for those who visit downtown.
The pandemic delayed the opening of the new location significantly, Knoeller stated. It took her 11 months to complete the paperwork required by the health department alone. In 2018, she submitted paperwork to remodel the building and they began construction in April 2019. Construction was completed in January 2020, but there were some governmental procedures that delayed the opening. Once the pandemic closed restaurants, the opening had to be delayed again.
“It has been a struggle, but it is well worth it,” Knoeller said. “For the month of March, we are only open Thursday and Friday from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM and on Saturday from 8:00 AM until 1:00 PM. In April, we will be open six days each week, Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM and Saturday 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM. We plan to offer some fun activities, including Open Mic Nights and Battles of the Bands. We want this to be a place where people come for fun and relaxation when they are walking along the Riverwalk.”
A grand opening and ribbon cutting celebration is planned for April 17 at 11 AM. Social distancing is practiced in the restaurant and there is a hand sanitizer at the door. Face coverings are required and, although the building has a capacity for 67 people, The Well is following COVID-19 restrictions and limiting capacity to 30. The Well Coffeehouse is located at 7 Park Avenue in the old Angelucci Studio building.