In their second season as owners of Harbor Ice Cream in New Harbor, Norma and Heather Leeman have expanded the business to include a coffee shop: Cafe on the Hill.
Harbor Ice Cream and Cafe on the Hill opened Saturday, April 3 and had a line of customers from all over Lincoln County all day long, Norma Leeman said.
The Leemans sell their own line of coffee, blended by Monhegan Coffee Roasters, and an assortment of coffee beverages, including cold brew, decaf, and hot and cold tea beverages.
The mother-daughter duo will also sell Maine Roots soda, Old Time Donuts, and an assortment of homemade baked goods and breakfast sandwiches. Daily specials, like cinnamon coffee cake, will be posted on the business’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
Everything on the menu is made in Maine or New England, including Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream. “Our mission is no different than that of Gifford’s: homemade and local,” Heather Leeman said.
Last year, many customers asked where they could buy coffee in the village. Norma Leeman saw an opportunity.
“There really isn’t anywhere to enjoy a freshly roasted cup of coffee down here,” she said.
“We don’t want to compete with other local businesses down here, or in Damariscotta. We just want to provide what isn’t being sold,” Heather Leeman added.
Monhegan Coffee Roasters, a small-scale roaster on Monhegan Island, about 12 miles off New Harbor, seemed like the perfect business to partner with.
Harbor Ice Cream and Cafe on the Hill is the first business on the mainland to sell Monhegan Coffee Roasters coffee. The Leemans currently receive orders by mail, but they will likely come by ferry in the future.
“Part of the idea behind adding coffee to our menu was to deter customers from going to corporate coffee chains,” Heather Leeman said. “We want to support local businesses as much as possible.”
Norma Leeman is prioritizing sustainability at the business this season, with eco-friendly and biodegradable serving supplies.
While their menu has expanded in new and exciting ways, the Leemans said that selling Gifford’s all-natural, Maine-made ice cream comes first and foremost.
They have built close relationships with representatives of Gifford’s, whom Norma Leeman called “the kindest people you’ll work with.”
As New Harbor locals, the Leemans work hard to reciprocate the Gifford’s mission of serving real, affordable ice cream.
“It’s been my favorite job,” Norma Leeman said, recalling how much fun she had at the stand during her summer vacations from school.
“I love talking to customers and guiding them to hidden gems in New Harbor,” Norma Leeman said.
“There’s a story to every customer at the window,” Heather Leeman said.
Norma Leeman graduated from the University of New Hampshire three years ago and most recently worked as a phlebotomist and medical lab assistant at Maine Medical Center. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in public health at the University of New England.
“The customer service aspect of scooping ice cream and working in the medical field feels like a natural fit for me,” she said.