by Joey Phoenix
It’s a cold January morning, your hands are freezing, and you’re trying to wake up. What do you do? An easy option is to pick up a delicious cup of coffee (or tea/tisane) that can chase the morning cobwebs away and warm your hands in the process.
And lucky for you, you won’t have to walk quite as far this winter because two new coffee shops are opening in Salem. While they each have their own particular flavors and vibes, they are both dedicated to building community and providing spaces for Salem residents and visitors alike to get a great cup of something warm and delicious.
These two new shops are Odd Meter Coffee on Washington Street and Wolf Next Door Coffee on Derby Street. They are joining a well-loved coffee and tea family in Salem that also includes places like Front Street Coffeehouse, Jolie Tea Company, and Coffeetime Bake Shop.
A Coffee Shop That Feels Like Home with Wolf Next Door Coffee
Diane Wolf (she/her) is a woman about town, a Salem figure who is well known and loved. She’s been doing business in the area for more than a decade as the founder of The Ugly Mug Diner and the current owner and chef at The Lobster Shanty. Her next project, Wolf Next Door Coffee, is bringing coffee and tasty treats to the masses – and it’s currently open for business.
Opening a dedicated coffee shop has been an ongoing dream of Diane’s and with Wolf Next Door Coffee, she’s excited to be able to fulfill that dream on her own terms. While opening a coffee shop during a global pandemic is no easy feat, for Diane, things are hopeful.
“Our plan is to keep it simple,” she said, “I hung up a K.I.S.S. [Keep It Simple, Satan] sign in the kitchen to remind us all of that.”
One of Diane’s unique skills is in creating dining spaces that feel like you’re eating in your own living or dining room. The Lobster Shanty on Artists’ Row – founded in the ‘70s with its tongue-in-cheek promise of lousy food, warm beer, and salty waitstaff – is Salem’s original dive bar, a place where regulars hang out and people remember your name.
Even the name “Wolf Next Door” gives a nod to Salem residents and local history. The title is an homage to the location’s former role as a gift shop called The Pig Next Door, which was operated by the owners of local favorite In a Pig’s Eye restaurant, which stood where the Mercy Tavern is now.
“We eventually want to be a stopping off point, a little hub for the neighborhood where you can come get powered up on your way or grab a quick lunch,” she said, admitting that with COVID-19 safety precautions still in effect it will probably happen in stages.
The shop will also host a little free library and a little free pantry, to help with the feeling of community coziness, and she plans to use the walls as a rotating gallery for local artists when the time comes. The wall mural were created by local artist Mike Grimaldi of Grimdrops and the custom signage on the menu and door was by m.ink creative studio.
But for Diane, the focus isn’t just on the comfort and the feeling of belonging, although that is a significant part of the experience, she also wants to provide delicious coffee, tea, and food from local sources. Wolf Next Door is partnering with Wareham, MA-based Jim’s Organic Coffee and Somerville, MA based MEM Tea.
The specialty drinks and food menu rotates according to availability and what’s in season, and includes staples like Avocado Toast, soups of the day, and pastries from A&J King Artisan Bakery. They’ve also introduced the ZOOM, which is a cold brew with a shot of espresso to help you start your mornings off right.
Wolf Next Door Coffee is currently open Tuesday through Sunday from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm and is located at 142 Derby Street in Salem, MA. You can find out more at their website at www.wolfnextdoorcoffee.com or by following them on Facebook.
Safe Spaces and Good Vibes at Odd Meter Coffee
Across town near the Salem MBTA commuter rail station, you’ll find Odd Meter Coffee, a small counter serve coffee shop with a whole lot of personality.
Odd Meter is the brainchild of former Chicago residents Eric Moers (he/him), musician and long-term barista, and Angelica Chayes (she/her), entrepreneur and founder of Get Up Consulting. They wanted to bring delicious coffee and tea to the foodie scene of Salem, MA, but more importantly, they wanted to do it in an intentional way – one that focuses on inclusivity and sustainability with a healthy dose of playfulness.
The name Odd Meter comes from the world of music theory, defined by musician Eric as those rhythms which aren’t quite predictable. Both he and Angelica wanted the shop to have offbeat, fun vibes that represent inclusivity and diversity and foster collaboration and community. The design of the shop is full of vibrant colors and exciting elements, suggesting that coffee can be delicious without taking itself too seriously.
They’ve hired local artist Anna Dugan of Annadidathing to create a colorful mural depicting these ideas, and worked with Made Collective Co. Interiors and Design and James J. Welch & Co., Inc. construction to help create their vision for the space.
“I had wanted to open a coffee shop for a few years,” said Eric, “But what I really wanted was to create something that I wasn’t seeing: a human centered business where we people feel seen and taken care of.”
“As we started to really coalesce around what our values were, we had to figure out how to build this into everything we do,” Angelica added. “And so, we put KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) around accessibility, around inclusion, around sustainability.”
To ensure this, and to “keep themselves accountable,” as Angelica explained, they’ve hired locally with a focus on diversity, chosen sustainable to-go packaging and supplies, and made some important decisions concerning how they pay their staff and include them in decision making.
And while it’s a wild time to be opening a business during a global pandemic, especially one with out of the box values and ideas, for Angelica and Eric the timing was significant.
“We just felt like it was even more important now to do it,” Angelica said. “And people are used to doing take-out now, and since we’re a tiny shop with only 11 seats that really works for us.”
Those who visit the shop can expect to see the usual suspects like drip coffee and hot tea, as Odd Meter has partnered with Boston-based Gracenote Coffee Roasters and Somerville, MA-based MEM Tea to bring the best in locally produced beverages to the shop. But they also plan to offer more ornate options like Kyoto Style Iced Coffee and pour over options alongside specialty espresso drinks, tea lattes, and pastries from a local baker.
“We actually have the privilege to start a business,” Angelica said, “I have organized, I’ve been an activist, I vote; And while I think [doing those things] does do something in the long term, this is something we can do right now in the short term.”
Odd Meter is located at 60 Washington Street in Salem next to Boston Hot Dog Co. and Melt Ice Cream. Their projected opening is on January 13, so follow them on Facebook or Instagram for more information or head to their website at www.oddmetercoffee.com/ to learn more.
Joey Phoenix (they/them) is the Director of Brand Strategy and Innovation at Creative Collective. As the resident storyteller and town crier, they encourage you to send story ideas, inspiration, or pictures of adorable critters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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