When one door closes, another door opens.
After 17 and a half years of roasting and serving coffee at the Shopping Cove on Sag Harbor’s Main Street, Java Nation owners Andres and Cheryl Bedini have been forced to take their roaster elsewhere after losing their lease.
The new location in Bridgehampton, which shares a building with Iron Horse Graphics on Maple Lane just east of the train station, is described by Mr. Bedini as a “destination spot.” It will open to the public in a few weeks.
Now that they have more space to roast coffee, the couple plans to rely heavily on wholesale coffee bean sales, both at the brick-and-mortar store as well as online, as they lose much of the foot traffic they had at their location at the Shopping Cove. However, customers will still be able to sit and enjoy the coffee in Java Nation’s new “tasting room” and store in the front of the building.
In a state of transition, the Bedinis are setting up shop and coping with an unusual amount of free time. For the past 15 years, Java Nation was open 11 hours a day, seven days a week.
“It’s weird for me to wake up at 6:30 and have nowhere to go,” Mr. Bedini said last week. “It’s only been three days, and there’s someone there working, it’s just not me. It’s going to take a few days to sink in.”
According to Mr. Bedini, Java Nation’s landlord, Bruce Slovin, sent a letter 10 days before Christmas telling the Bedinis that their lease would not be renewed and they had until January 31 to vacate their space. This came as a shock to the couple, who had been asking to renew their lease instead of paying month-to-month, according to Mr. Bedini. Mr. Slovin was unable to return calls seeking comment because he was traveling outside of the country.
After some negotiation, Mr. Slovin agreed to give the Bedinis more time to break the store down.
In Java Nation’s place, Shane Dyckman and his wife, Tisha Collette, who own a designer consignment store in the space next door, will open a new coffee shop. Construction for the new store has been ongoing since the space was vacated early last week.
On April 15, loyal customers and friends gathered at the coffee shop for an impromptu “farewell” to what was perhaps the center of town for many Sag Harbor locals.
“The good thing about Sag Harbor—you open the doors and people start showing up,” Mr. Bedini said, smiling.
Singing and dancing ensued, along with some tearful goodbyes.
“I saw them more than I saw my family,” Mr. Bedini said of his customers. “You get to know their first name, then you get to know their last name. Then you get to know their whole story. They become a part of your life.”
For many, Java Nation was a stomping ground where ideas were exchanged and friends were made.
John Monteleone, a friend of the Bedinis who has been a regular at Java Nation for 10 years, said there was nothing he didn’t enjoy about the coffee shop.
“The best thing about it was the community center that it was,” he said. “It brought people together. It was a place where people shared a nice day, a good cup of coffee and friendship.”
Many of Sag Harbor’s artists, performers and writers also took up residency there on a weekly basis, turning Java Nation into a kind of bohemian epicenter.
The coffee shop attracted not only the creative but an eclectic mix of customers. Pierson High School students frequented the shop daily for french sodas and hot chocolate, and Latino customers hailing from several different countries stopped in on their way to and from work, Mr. Bedini said.
“Everyone from day laborers to billionaires came by,” he added. “Two weeks ago, there was a Greek guy, an Armenian guy, a guy from Brazil, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Czechoslovakia, and I was born in Peru … there wasn’t one American. It was amazing.”
Mike Kinsey, who owns Black Cat Books on Shelter Island, is familiar with the ebb and flow of Java Nation’s activity. “Having a business in Sag Harbor feels like you are on the pulse of the town every day,” Mr. Kinsey said.
During the 1990s, he and his wife, Dawn Hedberg, rented retail space from Mr. Slovin directly across from Java Nation. After rent became too expensive, the couple moved their business to Bridgehampton, and then, two years later, to their home on Shelter Island.
“It was a social meeting point,” Mr. Kinsey said of the Shopping Cove. “It was the center of the village. Whenever you did anything you went there, and Java was the last of those little family-run businesses.”
Mr. Bedini said the move may be a change for the better, however, since the smell, sound and smoke created by the coffee roaster bothered some. He hopes two locations, one for roasting and one for selling, are in his future.
“It was just getting to be too much in that village—up those steps, bringing up those beans, smoking up the town,” he said. “I’d like to go back to Sag Harbor in a small space and just sell our coffee and pastries. But we’ve got to get this going first.”