Round Pond Coffee is building on its morning success with evening fare. From 4-8:30 p.m., Friday through Monday, Round Pond Coffee becomes The Common House, a beer and wine bar serving a variety of locally inspired charcuterie boards.
“Round Pond Coffee has become a communal space and we realized we could do something similar in the evening,” Sarah Matel said.
Matel’s husband, James “Jim” Matel, and their son, Teddy Matel, opened Round Pond Coffee at 1440 Route 32 in Round Pond in 2016 and it’s been going strong ever since. It was there that Sarah Matel and Tom Bishop came up with the idea for a beer and wine bar while having coffee one morning.
“It’s the idea of the third place,” Sarah Matel said. “People have their home, their work, and then they need somewhere else to go. The coffee shop became a ‘third place’ for a lot of people in the community and Tom and I thought, why don’t we make a space like that for the evening?”
Although Bishop and Sarah Matel are now business partners, they became acquainted through the coffee shop. Bishop was a regular and became friends with the Matel family. Bishop, originally from Michigan, has been coming to Maine seasonally for the last 35 years. When he retired a few years ago, he and his wife moved to Round Pond permanently.
Sarah Matel recently retired from her work as a financial advisor with Coastal Enterprises Inc. and Bath Savings Bank.
The idea for the wine and beer bar has slowly become a reality since the start of this calendar year. In January, Bishop and the Matels’ son, Seward Matel, took down the far wall of the coffee shop and in its place built a long, cherry wood horseshoe-shaped bar, made from wood acquired locally in Newcastle, according to Bishop.
While the bar was being built, The Common House was constructing its food and drink menu around accessibility, sourcing locally when possible.
“We try to keep prices fair,” Sarah Matel said. “We’d like to eventually source all of our cheeses from Maine for the charcuterie boards.”
In addition to renovation, carpentry, painting, and menu design, Bishop and Sarah Matel will be running the services at The Common House as well: Bishop is the lead bartender and Sarah Matel is leading the kitchen.
The building Round Pond Coffee and The Common House operate in is one with a long, community-centered history, according to Sarah Matel. It was previously Louds General Store, a dry goods store that was owned and operated in the 1850s.
On the wall adjacent to the bar is a collection of framed photos from Round Pond’s long history, including photos of the old gazebo in front of Granite Hall and the Round Pond marching band posing in front of Louds General Store.
To honor the building’s history further, it is painted with colors that would have been common in that period. According to Sarah Matel, they used Vinal Haven, a grey-cream hue, on the clapboards, Jewett White for the trim, and Portsmouth Spice, a soft red, on the door. Portsmouth Spice is also used on The Common House sign, dawned on the front of the building’s porch. Each of these colors is listed on Historic New England’s website by time period.
Friends of the shop showed up and helped give the inside a fresh coat of paint, Margret Brown, of The Art of Antiquing, donated a wine rack to compliment the space, and local artists donated their work to help The Common House come together.
“It’s been a community effort,” Bishop said.
Thursday, June 29, The Common House’s opening night, went well, according to Bishop and Sarah Matel.
“We had a great turnout,” Bishop said. “There was a line out the door at four. It was great to see the support.”
Something Bishop and Sarah Matel have tried to make clear to their friends and regulars is if there is something they’d like to see on the menu, to let them know.
“If there’s a wine they really love, and they would like us to carry, that’s something we’re hoping to do, but we tried to stay away from the wines you can go to the grocery store and buy because that’s just not that different or unusual,” Matel said.
The Common House logo was first drawn by Bishop’s daughter, Carolyn Bishop. Liz Martone, a local artist, produced the final product.
Matel and Bishop said that their goal is to have The Common House open year-round, to provide the community with a place to go when the weather gets colder, but that they’ll see how it goes.
Both Bishop and Sarah Matel said the Round Pond community is special and they’re excited to be a part of it.
“Every time I think, ‘Where do I want to be?’ It’s right here!” Sarah Matel said.
For more information about The Common House and Round Pond Coffee, call 529-0058 or find the businesses on Facebook.