Wednesday October 31, 2012

TOWNSHEND -- The continued growth of the recently revived West Townshend Country Store has led to the temporary closure of a new cafe.

The business is closed to make way for renovations that eventually will allow for expansion of the cafe into space formerly occupied by West Townshend’s post office.

Work is under way, said Clare Adams, president of the West River Community Project.

"The space has just opened up," Adams said. "It’s really nice."

The non-profit Community Project was created to save the store building, which dates to 1848 and is situated on Route 30 at Windham Hill Road. The retail operation had been shuttered for some time, and the building’s complete closure could have meant the demise of West Townshend’s post office.

Instead, West Townshend advocates have found a way to keep the post office while also establishing new community services at the store. A second floor thrift shop has generated revenue for the project, while the cafe and an outdoor cob oven were added this year.

The post office has moved to the rear of the building, opening up more space for retail at the front.

"We’re tearing the old post office out," Adams said. "We’re taking the posts down right now."

Also in the works is a new coat of paint and a refinished floor. Adams said the time frame for reopening the cafe is not yet clear and depends on contractors’ schedules.

"It’s going to open as soon as we can," she said.


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Project administrators also are taking the opportunity to re-evaluate the cafe’s offerings and business model.

"We’ve been advised to go slowly and not bite off more than we can chew," Adams said.

The post office and thrift shop remain open; patrons are advised to use the building’s side entrance. Thrift shop hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Also, organizers are continuing to host Friday Night Pizza fundraising events from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. weekly, using the cob oven to bake specialty pies.

Renovations also have not affected the community project’s online farmers’ market. Orders still can be picked up at the store on Fridays.

"It’s up and running, and you can connect with the market through our website," Adams said.

That website, which was recently redesigned, is at www.westtownshend.org.

Mike Faher can be reached at mfaher@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.