Coffee shop slated to open at historic Athens riverside site

Click here for the original story in the Athens News
By Kayla Beard


Many Athens area motorists drive past the old brick building at 9133 Rock Riffle Road, a stone’s throw away from the Stimson Avenue Bridge, multiple times every day, taking it for granted.

Soon the building, which also houses Pallini Industries, Inc., will be the new home of a coffee shop.

Town’s End Coffee is set to open in the near future, though an exact date has not yet been determined. Construction finished over the summer but “a slow down” in planning hit in the fall, according to the shop’s manager Charlotte Norris, whose business partner (and romantic partner of 26 years) Dave Norris owns the store.

“There’s a lot more that goes into a business than we imagined,” said Charlotte Norris. This includes tasks such as official paperwork filed with the city and state, and other logistics of owning and operating a business.

For the last two years or so, Town’s End has been in the works, Charlotte Norris said. The couple discovered the building was available in late 2015, and the building’s owner loved the coffee shop idea. “It took a while for us to get the logistics in place,” she said.

Former Catalyst Cafe barista and soon-to-be Town’s End employee Matthew Rohal, acting as a consultant for the new business, said the location has a lot of potential. The old building has an upper level that is largely unused at the moment, he said, leaving the possibility to expand upward. Additionally, there’s a significant amount of outdoor space around the riverside building that Rohal said could support patio seating. For now, though, he said those ideas are just dreams. “This may be all that it ever is,” he conceded.

THE HISTORIC BUILDING rests at the site of the first dam in Ohio, built in 1805 according to a plaque near the location, as well as the first U.S. post office in Athens County, established in January 1804, according to

Around 1834 Alexander Stewart built a sawmill at the site, which was soon destroyed by fire. A large three-story grist- and sawmill was rebuilt on the site by Alexander’s brother Daniel B. Stewart and in 1844, D.B. Stewart built a woolen factory that connected to the mill, according to

D.B. Stewart’s woolen factory building is where Town’s End Coffee will be housed. Concrete foundations from what Rohal said he thinks was an old conveyor belt remain near the shop’s entrance.

While it may seem out of the way to some, the Norrises “fell in love” with the location, according to Rohal, who called the place “perfect” for a coffee shop because of all the cross traffic from people out of town as well as locals. “For a lot of people that want and/or need a cup of coffee to get them through the day, most of the other options are on the other side of town,” Rohal said, which can be an inconvenience for some.

Rohal said the vision is to have a deep community feel with a focus on unique, quality coffee. “I love the community aspect… I just don’t have the palate for it, but (Norris) does,” Rohal said.

The two worked together at Casa Nueva for eight years in the early 2000s. Norris worked there for over 20 years, serving as the kitchen manager for several of those years, according to Rohal.

Charlotte Norris said the main goal of the shop “is to get people interested in trying a different flavor of coffee and to think about the whole concept of where it comes from… from the ground to your cup.” She also said the shop will hopefully give people “something that is different from commercial” coffee chains.

In time, the couple hopes to collaborate with other local businesses such as Fluff Bakery, Charlotte Norris said, to include local products in their inventory. She also mentioned that the shop will hopefully offer a “suspended coffee” system, whereby someone with a little extra cash could voluntarily purchase his or her own coffee and one for someone else. “They would pay for two cups of coffee… and then if somebody can’t afford a cup of coffee,” Norris said, that person can ask for one of any suspended cups available.

“It’s community helping community,” she said, adding that she hopes the idea will catch on at other places around town.

When the coffee shop opens it will include an espresso bar, drip coffee and small-batch cold coffee.

The shop was originally supposed to open months ago, but Rohal said “little things” have continued to get in the way. A soft opening was planned for last week, Norris said, but the opening was postponed after a car accident in on a slushy roadway temporarily compromised those plans. Dave Norris, who was injured in the accident, was recovering and unable to comment on the coffee house’s opening before this story went to print.

Charlotte Norris said the couple hopes to have the soft opening sometime in the next few weeks, and are planning to have a grand opening this spring. She asked that people “be a little bit patient,” but added that they’ve already received a lot of community support and interest. “That actually has been a really positive force