It's one of Shelton's afternoon hot-spots; on any given day of the week around lunchtime, the community rolls into for original handmade sandwiches, salads, cakes and—of course—drinks.
Peter Vouras bought the cafe on Huntington Street, formerly Rhapsody in Brew, in 2008 and has owned it since with the goal of bringing a local gathering place to today's constantly on-the-go society.
"I would like to think that I am bringing back community feel," Vouras said back in December, when he had just celebrated his third year with the business. "Regulars come in the morning or stop in before work. To bring a community together...I don’t know, everyone's got their own stuff going on. I just want this to be a nice place for them to grab a bite to eat."
In an ever uncertain economy where many small businesses suffer or fail, Vouras said his secret is simple: "Good food, good service, good atmosphere and a good bang for your buck."
Vouras said patrons often use the cafe as an informal study and meeting space. Students can set up their laptops and sit for the afternoon, and the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce's Women in Networking business group often holds their monthly meetings over a cup of coffee. HSC also offers catering services, and the cafe can be booked for private events.
What really draws the crowds in, though, is the live music and events. HSC hosts local bands and musicians on the weekends, open mic nights, and a Tarot card reader every Friday. Vouras, who published the rock magazine "Vox Pop" in the 80's, has always been a music junkie.
"I’ve always had my hand in local music scene, so when I found out there were bands here I tweaked it," he said. "By trial and error we’ve gotten a nice group of returning artists."
All this has played a part in HSC being voted "Best of Fairfield County" in their annual poll since 2009. "I think we’re an oasis. As you can see, there’s no television. We have good music, we have free Wi-Fi, we have food. It’s just a place where someone can feel comfortable hanging in no matter what they want to do," Vouras said.
The poll is currently underway for 2012, and Vouras is asking residents and patrons to cast their ballots once again. Voting closes March 21.
To vote, just click this link and register on the site. Under the following categories, choose "Huntington Street Cafe" in the drop-down sub-category box, or add it to the list if it's not already there:
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