New brew Westport deli owner opening coffee shop in Stamford
STAMFORD — Breno Donatti met his wife just steps away from the Ferguson Library, and he’s hoping the site proves fortuitous yet again.
The Stamford resident is opening a new location for his coffee business, Winfield Street Coffee, inside the library this summer. The new shop will replace the recently departed Starbucks, which had been in the spot for 20 years and decided not to renew its lease.
Once open, Winfield Street will be only the second specialty coffee provider in downtown, alongside nearby Lorca.
The Brazilian-born Donatti said he couldn’t have found a better home for his new location. The original Winfield Street Coffee shop is located in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
“It’s an amazing spot, right downtown, with great visibility,” he said.
It also is only about four blocks from Donatti’s Stamford home. Shop-owner won’t be the first Stamford job for the UConn-Stamford graduate, however.
He previously worked at the former Sundance Café & Wine Bar on Broad Street, a job that brought him into contact with Jeanette Vecchione-Donatti.
On an August day in 2009, she was walking down Broad Street with a friend she was visiting. Donatti, who was returning to the cafe after delivering catering, overheard his future wife tell her friend she didn’t like Starbucks.
Sensing an opening, Donatti said, “There’s a great coffee shop right across the street.”
His pitch worked, as the women went to the café, which has since closed. He invited them to come back to see live music at night, and sure enough, they came to that as well.
Donatti ended up with her phone number, and the courtship began.
This August, 10 years after that fateful encounter, Donatti will open his coffee shop mere feet away from where the two first met.
But Donatti’s love story wasn’t the reason Alice Knapp, president of The Ferguson Library, chose his business over other proposals.
In fact, she didn’t hear the story until after Winfield was chosen.
The clincher for her was visiting Donatti’s other business, the Winfield Street Italian Deli in Westport, she said.
“The shop in Westport is exquisitely designed,” she said. “We really felt that Winfield had the right fit in terms of the healthier food and delicious coffee.”
The Stamford location will offer North Carolina-based Counter Culture Coffee, and will serve fresh baked goods, sandwiches and salads.
The coffee options include the drip variety to espressos, lattes and cappuccinos, and even the Cuban cortadito, a mixture of espresso with condensed milk.
The new Winfield location in Stamford will also boast a number of creative drink options, such as strawberry oat milk and celery lemonade, as well as multiple juice flavors, including chia seed, elderflower and blood orange.
Food offerings will include bowls featuring Porchetta, salmon or edamame, alongside more standard fare such as an Italian hero and turkey sandwich.
The Stamford location will also serve waffles, but not the typical variety. Donatti said the Belgian waffles at his establishment will be the type from Liege, and not the Brussels style that is most prominent in North America. Liege waffles are smaller and more rounded, generally thicker and contain small clumps of sugar.
Knapp said she hopes the local business will be more involved in library events and an attraction for visitors.
“What we really did want was someone who was unique and had a unique perspective,” she said.
The new business will be unique in its partnership with Domus, a nonprofit that helps high-risk youth in Stamford.
Mike Duggan, president of Domus, said Knapp put him in touch with Donatti, and there was an “instant connection.”
Together, they set up a relationship in which Domus youth will work at the coffee shop. Before the store even opens, Domus clients will help build the space, including furniture and cabinetry.
“I’ve always wanted to have a place where our young people could develop and get skills and get paying jobs,” Duggan said.
Donatti said he plans to continue to expand his business, and expects to open a location in Miami. The Stamford store will serve as the model for any new location.
“The idea here is to make this my flagship,” he said. “From the menu to the kitchen layout to the coffee bar layout to the seating, everything will be the flagship.”