Meridian Industrial

SAW DUST COFFEE HOUSE & DESSERT BAR

2/1/2024 | HOPE E. TREMBLAY

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Four years ago this month, Pete Champagne took a big leap when he opened Saw Dust Coffee House & Dessert Bar in Sturbridge. Two years later, he took another when he opened a second location in Putnam, Connecticut, and he has been brewing up success ever since.

The secret? Well, first, it’s the coffee.

“We do have really good coffee,” Champagne said of their house coffee, brewed exclusively for Saw Dust at Good as Gold roasters in Worcester. “It’s a four-bean blend with no bitterness or acidity. If you drink it black, there’s a little hint of chocolate. It’s good.”

The second secret to his success is the atmosphere, which features rustic, handmade furniture created by Champagne himself.

Before opening his own restaurants, Champagne spent years working with his brother Steve, who owns Niche Hospitality Group, which includes six restaurants.

“I came on board with him, building out the interiors,” Champagne said. “I made table tops, booths, doors and bars for almost five years, but I always wanted my own thing, and I’ve always loved coffee.”

Champagne wanted to stand out from the rest of the coffee shops — secret number three — so he also got a full liquor license, live musicians and an amazing baker. That combination made for a great opening in February of 2020, but a month later everything shut down because of COVID.

“Because we also served breakfast and lunch, it was considered an essential business and we kept going with takeout,” Champagne said.

Once he was able to open up fully again, the customers began coming in and coming back. In 2022 he opened the second location.

“Sturbridge has become a foodie town,” Champagne said. “It’s a quaint town with a lot to do, lots of shopping and food, and Saw Dust fits there.”

The breakfast menu includes a quiche of the day and a variety of muffins and bagels daily, as well as gluten free options. There is an acai bowl and a variety of toasts for the foodies Champagne mentioned, including avocado toast, mixed berry toast and Nutella toast. Breakfast sandwiches, wraps and hash browns round out the morning menu.

At lunch, there is a panini menu — with offerings such as the Saw Dust grilled cheese panini, meatball panini and BLT panini — and a wrap menu, including a Mediterranean wrap, barbeque chicken wrap and chicken Caesar wrap, as well as a variety of salads and soups. There is a flatbread menu and children’s menu to complete the food offerings.

And, of course, there’s the coffee.

Saw Dust has its house brew as well as a dark roast, Americano, cappuccino, macchiato and mocha. There are lattes and espressos and iced options, as well as teas and chai lattes.

Champagne said the full bar allows them to offer spiked coffees, and cocktails include Champagne’s specialty, “Peter’s ‘Rita.”

“I’m a tequila guy, so we have a good margarita,” he said, noting that the Saw Dust martini menu doesn’t disappoint.

“I’d put our espresso martini up against any at the best restaurants,” Champagne said.

The dessert menu pairs well with coffee and bar beverages and includes jumbo chocolate chip cookies, cheesecake, white vanilla cake, chocolate cake and more.

Having a cocktail and dessert while listening to lowkey live music and talking with friends is where Saw Dust Coffee House & Dessert Bar has really carved out its niche.

“We have musicians booked through July,” Champagne said.

Both locations offer live music Friday and Saturday nights and usually feature a duo or trio.

“It’s a nice place to come and sit and really enjoy the music and conversation,” said Champagne, adding it’s exactly the kind of place he wants to frequent.

SAW DUST COFFEE HOUSE & DESSERT BAR IS LOCATED AT
371 MAIN STREET, STURBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS AND
91 MAIN STREET, PUTNAM, CONNECTICUT.
FOR HOURS AND MUSIC SCHEDULE, VISIT SAWDUSTCOFFEEHOUSE.COM

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