I’ve lived in Essex County, a hyper-rural part of the Northeast Kingdom for about 9 years now. I think it’s a fair representation to say there isn’t a single cafe in the whole of the county. There are a couple of roadside variety stores which double as gas pumping stations (both on Rt 2, one in Concord, one in Lunenburg). There’s a greasy spoon breakfast and lunch joint on Rt 2 in Concord. Up in Island Pond, there’s a sandwich deli and a bar with a small greasy spoon restaurant attached. And I haven’t been to Canaan (right on the Canadian border) recently, but I’m pretty sure that’s nothing there at all. In any event, there’s certainly no establishment where you can go in, sit down, whip out your laptop, and drink a latte or a cappuccino, munch on scones and muffins, see local artwork on the walls, and even take a yoga or tai chi class if you’re so inclined.
That’s the Grindstone Cafe, but you have to go to neighboring Caledonia County, in the town of Lyndonville for it. I’m very lucky indeed to have this little grass-roots establishment just around the corner from my office.
The Grindstone is a relatively new endeavor in Town. It started in March of 2011 and has since changed ownership, with a focus on doing its part to build and strengthen a vibrant, safe, fun and interesting downtown Lyndonville. The Cafe’s owners are themselves well-integrated into the local community–Kim Crady-Smith, one of the four co-owners, also owns and manages Green Mountain Books & Prints around the corner, arguably one of the best used bookstores in Vermont. All the fabulous baked goods at the Grindstone are baked locally, every day by Kate Colleran, who used to bake for and manage the wonderful Crumbs, a bakery/cafe that closed back in 2010.
On any given day at the Grindstone, you’ll enter to find a wide range of people gathered for coffee, conversation, or newspaper reading. There are retired people, young stay-at-home moms with their kids, high school and college kids, and working people like myself.
But the Grindstone isn’t just a place for food and drink. The owners are constantly drumming up a roster of activities and events. You can take a yoga or tai chi class in the afternoon or evening in the upstairs part of the building. There’s local artwork on the walls for sale, including photography, woodcuts and painting. A few weeks ago, a live band played the Grindstone, small as the venue is. They had a “beat” party with poetry readings some time back, a Valentine’s Day coffee and chocolate tasting, a Mother’s Day Tea Party, and a couple of years ago, the renowned poet Galway Kinnell came to the Grindstone to read his poetry out loud.
Visit the Grindstone’s Facebook page to learn more. And stop by to visit this fabulous, cozy little corner of our Northeast Kingdom. You won’t regret it!