Owners of Hampton Shop Blame Economy

By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Tuesday, January 5, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Wendy and Al Szymczycha were customers of Caffé Fresco before buying the shop in 2003. They closed the business for good at noon on New Year’s Eve.
[Courtesy photo by Beauchesne]

HAMPTON — Caffé Fresco closed its doors for the last time on New Year’s Eve, marking the end of its 8-year run downtown.

Owners Al and Wendy Szymczycha said they made the final decision Monday, Dec. 28, to close the gourmet coffee/bistro shop.

“It was a tough decision,” Al said, “but at this point we don’t have a choice.”

The couple said it was not economically feasible to keep open the Lafayette Road establishment. Over the last year, the couple said they really began to feel the impact of the poor economy, especially after several other businesses closed or left the downtown Hampton area.

Wendy said it got so bad she and her husband took on full-time jobs to keep the business and their family afloat.

“The decision to close became clear to us when we started supplementing the business,” Al said. “We were hoping it would only be short term, but it was just not getting any better.”

Caffé Fresco first opened it doors June 25, 2001.

The shop was then owned by Kelley and Cara Grasso, and occupied the space where Gordon Shoe Shop was once located.

Wendy said she and Al purchased the place in 2003.

“We saw this place and said, ‘This is the type of place we would hang out at,’ and we did,” said Al, who noted the couple used to frequent the establishment before deciding to purchase it.

“When it came up for sale, we grabbed the bull by the horns and bought it,” he said.

Over the last couple of years, business dwindled a bit with the addition of Me & Ollie’s and Dunkin Donuts to the downtown area.

“I grew up in Hampton, and back then there were no coffee shops,” Wendy said. “Now, all of a sudden, there is so many of us. There is too much competition.”

The couple said the best part of operating the business was the people.

“We have a group that comes here first thing in the morning every day to discuss the topic of the day,” Al said.

“We have met so many amazing people,” Wendy said.

The worst part was dealing with the town of Hampton, they said.

“We had some issue with the town and their snow ban policy,” Wendy said.

“They would call a snow ban and it wouldn’t even be snowing yet,” Al said. “They would close the entire downtown area and no one could park.”

Al said it was bittersweet turning over the “closed sign” for the last time Thursday.

“I want to thank our loyal customers for sticking with us through good times and the bad,” said Al. “We couldn’t ask for better customers.”