LEWISTON – An upscale coffee chain is planning to open its first New England franchise in the Bates Mill, an aromatic neighbor to the restaurant and doctor’s office already located in Mill No. 6.

“I think there’s a need for this at the mill, there are so many people working there,” said Paul Spellman, who with his wife, Patricia, are opening Barnie’s Coffee and Tea Cafe. More than 1,000 people work at the mill complex.

The Spellmans are Auburn residents who have a second home in Florida where Barnie’s is headquartered. Paul Spellman said he’s watched the growth of the gourmet coffee chain – based primarily in upscale malls – for the past 15 years and thought it would do well in the mix of businesses at Bates Mill.

“We did some research on the area needs for this … for Barnie’s as well as other coffee chains,” said Spellman. “We thought Barnie’s was best for L.A.”

The 20-year-old company has franchises scattered from Florida to New York, as well as Canada and Ireland.

Spellman said what sets Barnie’s apart from other coffee chains is its insistence on using 100 percent Arabica beans in its coffee, rather than the blends found at competitors.

“We thought the coffee product tasted better,” Spellman said. Plus the company allows franchisees to tailor the cafe to their markets. He said the Lewiston location will offer coffee, tea, lattes, cappuccinos, espresso, light breakfasts, baked goods, gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads. Coffee-related merchandise such as home brewing machines, coffee by the pound, and gift baskets will also be offered.

Spellman is negotiating a lease with mill management and expects to have construction finished this fall. He intends to furnish the 2,000-square-foot coffeehouse with leather chairs and sofas, offer Internet service and other amenities such as a meeting room.

“It’s going to be gorgeous,” he said. “(Platz Associates) have done an impressive job with this whole complex.”

Barnie’s will be located to the right of Fish Bones restaurant and Bates Mill Dermatology, which occupy the first floor of Mill No. 6. Androscoggin Bank occupies the second floor.

Spellman, who is part owner of Federal Distributors, said the coffeehouse is completely independent of the beer supplier, but he is borrowing a brew-based idea.

He plans to offer customers a “Mug Club” where they can buy a mug and get discounts on coffee consumed there. The idea is patterned on taverns that allow customers to hang their personal beer mugs or steins over the bar.

“It is a beer-business idea, but I think it will work for us as well,” he said.


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