Westminster Main Street haunt tCUP cafe opened its doors on June 11 for the first time since last October.
“It’s a relief,” said owner Traci Malinoski. “It feels really encouraging, just because the community has been so responsive and encouraging of us. We just feel so blessed to be able to, after everything we went through, to be able to have this space.”
Though the soft opening ended on June 27, the cafe will open for good again on July 9 with a grand reopening scheduled for July 25.
The Carroll County Chamber of Commerce has partnered with tCUP to help welcome the business back into the community. The grand reopening will take place from 4-6 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4:30 p.m. and free samples for all.
Formerly known as The Cup, the 1 E. Main St. cafe has long been a favorite of many Carroll County residents and visitors.
“I was expecting a long opening road,” said owner Tash Otto of the soft opening, “but we were greeted on opening day with what would have been a normal day. It really warmed my heart.”
tCUP closed on October 15 for what Malinoski and Otto expected to be quick, minor renovations.
But one repair led to another and a few days turned into a few weeks which turned into a few months. Eight months later, both Malinoski and Otto are relieved to be back in business.
“We almost gave up on it, I will admit,” said Malinoski. “It was difficult; at times we were very discouraged.”
The response from the Westminster and Carroll County communities kept the family ownership team driven to see the project through.
“They’ve shown so much support,” said Malinoski. “Shown so much sheer happiness.”
In just a few weeks of being open again, she’s seen customers excited to have their old tCUP favorites as well as to explore some new options.
Despite the support, the owners found the eight-month closure sometimes hard to justify, posting updates on the tCUP Facebook page as often as possible to keep customers up to date.
“There wasn’t too much that [showed] that the place was in bad condition visible to customers,” said Malinoski.
Some of the repairs include new flooring, an increase in available sitting, new paint colors, and a changed kitchen area.
Malinoski likens these changes to seeing an old friend again.
“We’re like an old friend with a new attitude.”
The new name–tCUP cafe–came about as Malinoski and Otto looked to refresh their brand while also maintaining familiarity with their customers.
“We didn’t want to change it too much, but wanted to recognize it as still being [a change],” said Malinoski.
“I initially was really opposed to the name,” said Otto, smiling, “but it warmed up to me. She (Malinoski) likens the ‘t’ to ‘Traci and Tash.'”
The new name came with new branding, including a fresh website, tcupcafe.com.
Also new to the cafe is Chesapeake Bay Roasting Company whose coffee can now be purchased in a variety of blends.
“We’ll have a light, medium-dark, decaf, and featured roast,” Malinoski said.
There will also be an espresso option and more flavor shots to create different types of lattes. Tea, of course, is still in the mainstream.
The roaster was founded in 2002 with the mission of making great coffee and helping to save the Chesapeake Bay and environment, an issue at the heart of many Marylanders.
In line with this mission, tCUP will begin offering more sustainable products like paper straws and environmentally friendly to-go cups.
Customers can also expect to find more gluten free, vegan, and paleo-friendly options on the menu when the cafe reopens.
Also friendly will be some of the staff that customers have come to recognize over the years. Chief among them is head chef Kyle McGraff.
“He’s worked here longest of everyone here,” said Malinoski, “even the owners. He just knows the whole evolution of CUP and tCUP. He’s evolved with it.”
Malinoski and Otto correlate their employees and customers with their family.
“We’re like a family,” said Malinoski. “It’s a warm, friendly environment and we try to pass that off to the customer base when they come in.”
It’s this family that Malinoski and Otto will be working on during the brief closure to start off July.
“It’ll be some real brick and mortar things,” said Otto of what will be done during the closure. “We’ll also address with the staff everything that came up in the soft opening. What we’ve learned about our mistakes.”
While customers will have to wait a few more weeks until they can make visits to tCUP a regular part of their schedule again, the cafe’s community is confident there will be plenty worth waiting for.
“[We’ve received] a really wonderful outpouring from the people,” said Otto. “That’s the reason we went through all of this in the first place.”
Customers can resume regular tCUP activities at 8 a.m. on July 9.
“Every time I come in, this genuinely feels like home,” said Otto.
Visit: tCUP cafe, 1 E. Main St., Westminster, MD, 21157. Tuesday-Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 410-848-7622.