NEWPORT NEWS — Now that a trying pandemic summer is in its rearview, Cure Coffeehouse plans to greenlight its expansion plans, including with a shop on the Peninsula.
“I think we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as an industry, let alone as an independent business in the industry,” co-owner Chris Shelton said.
Shelton and Mike Aston, friends since high school in Smithfield, opened Cure’s first location at 503 Botetourt St. in Norfolk in 2011 followed by a second location at 113 N. Church St. in Smithfield in 2017. With those two locations back on their feet, Shelton said he and his business partner are returning their focus to plans for Olde Towne Portsmouth and Newport News in the coming couple of quarters.
Pandemic challenges with the supply chain and labor, experienced by most of the restaurant industry, had put the growth plans on hold.
“We were expecting a lot faster pace going into the summer and then it was one shortage after another — whether staff, plastic or paper cups …” Shelton said. “You can’t very well sell an iced latte to go without plastic cups.”
But, die-hard Cure regulars will be happy to hear that not only is the Portsmouth build-out moving along, the coffeehouse that specializes in espresso drinks, craft beer, wine, sandwiches, salads and charcuterie boards also leased space in City Center at Oyster Point.
In fact, it’s moving into the 2,970-square-foot former Aromas spot at 706 Town Center Drive, according to Divaris Real Estate. Aromas moved this past summer to a location across from Christopher Newport University where it plans to rebrand as The Captain’s Den and Coffee House.
The timeline is still to be determined for opening on the Peninsula since Shelton said the landlord is working on repairs before they start renovating the space.
“This growth is something we were looking forward to and working on — finding locations — before the pandemic hit,” Shelton said.
Citing “the relentless optimism of entrepreneurs,” Shelton said the partners will see how much of the growth vision they can pull together for even more locations, including as far as Charlottesville one day.
“When a business grows fast, as we would love to, it’s difficult to maintain the authenticity to the brand and experience while succeeding in that rapid growth,” he said.
That’s why Shelton said they are trying to do it carefully so they can stay authentic to the brand, quality, service and smiling staff. “If we can’t maintain all of those, we don’t want to pursue that growth rate,” he said.
Kindra Greene, a Norfolk resident, has been a regular bi- or triweekly customer of the local hometown coffee shop since it opened. The community manager for Bloom in Portsmouth said she and members of the coworking space look forward to Cure’s new location opening next door on High Street. Greene said she eats primarily a plant-based diet and can’t get enough of Cure’s jackfruit superfood tacos.
“They have a real community vibe … and a knack for making everyone feel like there’s something for everyone,” she said.
Shelton is thankful not only for the customers but also for the workers who have waded through the business’s difficult times.
“We all came together as a team and they came up with great ideas on how to keep our doors open, keep serving customers while being safe and adhering to the COVID guidelines,” Shelton said. “All in all, everybody pulled together and made it happen.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, firstname.lastname@example.org