The Stone Mill’s grand opening attracts crowd

By RAIN JI

BENJY RENTON
The Mad Taco, which boasts a creek-side patio, is one of many new establishments that locals and college students visited at The Stone Mill’s grand opening.

After months of anticipation, The Stone Mill had its grand opening on Saturday, Nov. 9. By 10 a.m., Stacey Rainey and Mary Cullinane, owners of The Stone Mill, were ready to welcome customers from Middlebury and nearby towns. According to the Community Barn Ventures website, the building now has five floors, featuring a public market with the Lost Monarch Coffee, a co-working space, four lodging units and The Mad Taco restaurant. Rainey was excited about the Stone Mill’s soft opening two weeks ago, and that the space is now ready to welcome more people from the community. “The co-working space upstairs is going well,” she said, “and the [AirBnB] rooms will be available starting Sunday.” 

Lost Monarch Coffee was many people’s first stop as they entered the public market. Head Brewer Daniel Gutierrez ’23 has been in the coffee industry for over five years. As he began his academic life at Middlebury this year, he hoped to continue his passion for coffee nearby. Luckily, he was offered an opportunity by Aless and Matt Delia-Lôbo, owners of Royal Oak Coffee, the sister brand of Lost Monarch Coffee. He hopes that the coffee shop can become a community hub. “So many beautiful relationships and connections take place at a cafe,” Gutierrez said. “There is so much value to a common space in town.” 

Residents welcomed this addition to Middlebury. “I love the idea of having a good coffee shop in town,” said Susan James, a Middlebury resident, “especially when it’s open on the weekends.” Dan Golstein, a Middlebury College exchange student from the UK, was very pleased with his latte. “The milk wasn’t overly fluffy and it was perfectly smooth,” he said. “The strength of the coffee hits just right.” 

Nina Ng ’23 enjoyed her Gibraltar coffee, too. “It’s a smooth light blend,” she said. “The undertone of sourness freshens up the coffee.” 

The public market is divided into individual spaces dedicated for Slate Home, Vermont Book Shop, The Stone Mill Collection and Dedalus Wine Shop. “We wanted to make the space flexible for everyone,” Rainey said. Cullinane envisioned the place to be a destination for the community. “Visitors can come to celebrate everything that is great about Vermont,” she said. Slate Home features a variety of beautiful products ranging from blankets, earrings to wallets. The Stone Mill Collection has a variety of Rainey and Cullinane’s favorite things that are made available now for community members or visitors to shop. Notably, the public market sells products of Skida, a brand created by Corinne Prevot ’13 in high school, which she expanded during her years at Middlebury College. Rainey intentionally chose to introduce the cashmere Skida line to decrease competition with other local businesses that sell the traditional line. 

The Stone Mill terrace, although icy and bare on Saturday, was noticed by many. “It would be a great space for a cup of coffee with a book during spring time,” Rainey said. Many customers look forward to stepping outside and enjoying the view of Otter Creek once the weather gets warmer. Derek Fallon and Ali Dwienll from Vergennes, Vermont visited on Saturday. “We’ve been to Mad Taco a couple of times, it’s really good. We’re excited for this new place because it’s always nice to have more things that bring people into town.” 

BENJY RENTON
The Vermont Book Shop has a satellite retail location at the Public Market inside the Old Stone Mill.

At 11 a.m., as more people filled the space, Ingrid gave customers a tour of the space upstairs. The co-working space is delicately decorated with wall art, and the view outside of the windows is simply breath-taking. There is an after-hour staircase and elevator designated for the co-working space as well as the lodge units. As of now, there are two private phone booths, two private offices, a conference room, a kitchen and an open working space. The rent is set at $125 per month, and the space has attracted 18 individuals to sign up so far. 

The lodge area was put together by Slate Home. The decoration is thoughtful, consistent and elegant. With carefully chosen rugs to make the place home-like, many visitors expressed their wishes to spend special occasions there.  “This is totally exciting,” said Jolene Newton, academic coordinator of the French Department at Middlebury. “I think the mixed use of the space is very smart.” 

Stepping out of the public market, many were attracted to The Mad Taco. By noon, the space was packed with eager customers. Nina Ng said the Yam taco was exceptionally good. “Layers of black beans, roasted yam, sweet potato, and shredded pickled cabbage create a very hearty taco,” she said. “The coriander adds an element of freshness to lighten up the entire taco with more richness.” Amina Matavia ’23 enjoyed an Al Pastor taco. She said, “I’m no food critic, but I really enjoyed the taco. The meat was shredded finely and it was very flavorful.”  

The Old Stone Mill really has it all: a place to work, spend the night, drink coffee, shop Vermont products and enjoy tacos. Cullinane hopes that the multi-dimensional space will expand and grow to be another social hub for the local community and beyond. 

“It’s a collection of wonderful people doing wonderful things,” she said.

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