Italian coffee shop to open in key spot

March 30, 2012
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HYDE SQ.—An Italian coffee shop called Caffe Aromi is aiming to open in the long-vacant storefront at 403A Centre St. in the heart of Hyde Square next month, according to executive general manager Terry Bruce.

It will serve coffee drinks, light pastries and panini, and “create a neighborhood hangout,” Bruce told the Gazette.

Bruce is also the office manager for landlord Mordechai Levin, who declined to comment. The storefront previously housed the June Bug Café, which closed two years ago. The overall building at 403-405 Centre also includes the still-vacant spaces where the popular Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge operated until moving to The Brewery complex in 2009 amid a high-profile rent dispute.

“There are a few people who have expressed interest and are putting together proposals [for the former Bella Luna/Milky Way space], but we haven’t signed a lease with anyone yet,” Bruce said.

Bruce is a Jamaica Plain resident who formerly ran Today’s Bread, a popular bakery and restaurant that operated for almost 25 years in central JP before closing in 1998. She said she will run Caffe Aromi for a group of investors, all from outside the neighborhood.

The café’s name “connotes good aroma, good flavor,” Bruce said. The business will have some seating, free Wi-Fi Internet, and a “clean, Italian design” in a minimalist style. It is aiming to be open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The coffee will be from George Howell Coffee, a company run by a pioneer of high-end coffee who establishes direct connections with coffee-growers to attempt a more equitable business relationship. The “single-source” coffee does not blend different beans.

Bruce said the café eventually will seek permission for outdoor seating, once Levin has refurbished a patio area in the back.

The Bella Luna space formerly had a large, jazz-themed mural on its exterior wall, which was painted over as part of renovations aimed at attracting new tenants. Bruce said a new mural will replace it, but that weather has stalled the painting for now. The new mural will be done by Heidi Schork of the Mayor’s Mural Crew, which also painted the previous one, Bruce said. Schork could not immediately be reached for comment.

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